The Ultimate Thank You Note…

One of Process Triage’s core values is Elevate Someone, Somehow.  Meaning, leave each person we interact with no worse for the moment, while seeking something to add to them and elevate their life.  One does not condescendingly assume everyone lacks something only we can remedy.  It simply means we actively, respectfully listen to them — deliberately think about them.  What do they want and need?  Have we seen someone like them before, where they are at? Have we helped someone like them?  Can we help now — right now?

A couple of years ago I blogged about Jessi Ross at the Kansas Department of Motor Vehicles.  PT had the privilege of triaging in the Department of Revenue with several process management teams, including the motor vehicles department’s Drivers’ License management office. Since Kansas, statewide, as very little mass transit, surviving and thriving in Kansas requires access to a vehicle — something city dwellers may not appreciate.  One has to have a vehicle in Kansas, generally speaking. So it’s especially important work.

I received this amazing email from Jessi (shared with permission):

Good Morning friend,

I hope this email finds you well. [Snip] I have accepted and began a new adventure. I am working for American Association of Motor Vehicles Administrators! As I am sure you know, is the hub of all things DMV! I am blessed and thankful for this new opportunity. It is truly a dream come true. [Snip] 

My official job title is Program Director for Driver License Compacts and Reciprocity. My primary focus will be the management of the compacts and agreements that each state uses for uniformity with citations, suspensions, etc. I will also manage the reciprocity agreements, both foreign and domestic. 

I want to thank you Rosey. You believed in me from the beginning. I will never forget the conversation we had one day about my future. That conversation has helped me in so many ways.

If there is anything you need, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Jessica Ross
Driver License Compacts & Reciprocity Program Director

Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators

What I was reminded by Jessi (and her DMV team) is wonderful, self-managed, hyper-accountable teams thrive in the public sector also.  Stereotypes that paint public sector employees as less motivated or less caring about well designed and run business processes are unfair and, well — just ignorant.  The more accurate assumption is these teams are busting their butts with out-of-date technology supported with IT infrastructure with significant technical debt.

There are many Jessi Ross’s in these thankless public sector offices.

A little encouragement can spark greatness.

What a Process Triage Workshop Delivers (Video)

HERE, in a few minutes of video of a live Process Triage Workshop, is my explanation of what the workshop is all about.

Enjoy!

Another Seth Godin jewel…

I’ve been a fan of Seth Godin for a couple of years.  His daily blog maintains an exceptional quality.  I probably bookmark two or three a month.

This morning’s blog was about process improvement, PT’s sweet spot.

Doing what he suggests begins with our culture — study and fix processes first; the people improvements will be easier.

Enjoy

What’s Your Process’s Triage Profile?

Let’s begin this New Year with something fresh and clean and thoughtful and, maybe, kick-butt useful to our integrators and operations lovers.

Introducing our Process Triage Profile

A Process Triage Profile paints a picture of what your immediate process improvement focus should be, according to your team that triaged the process.

Recall, a Process Point-of-Pain is any recurring event or behavior happening to or in a process that inhibits its performance capability — like quality or volume or speed. When we remove the pain point, the process performs closer to its capability goals.  Process Triaging is all about issue-processing these Pain Points into a Solutions, sorted into one of four types of solutions:

  • Analyze for a root cause if we don’t know the most likely cause enough,
  • Design a best practice method or technology if we don’t have something off-the-shelf that prevents the pain (if we use it!),
  • Train this best practice or technology is it needs reminding, and/or
  • Enforce the best practice with our management operating system if we’ve eliminated the first three solutions.  By enforce, we don’t mean some heavy-handed supervision. We’re just saying we know the cause, have a best practice, and don’t need to train it. We need to focus on execution and doing what we know to do. The execution tactics can involve any aspect of our operating practices in any area.
  • After the solution is selected, we estimate its level of effort.  We call it a Small Now for an action item / task-size deliverable or a Big Now if t’s a larger, project-size effort.
  • After all the Points-of-Pain are triaged, the triage team ranks the proposals by their highest, most capability improving value.
  • Your triage host writes post-triage Implementation Plan, and either schedules and assigns a proposals for immediate pursuit or declares it Not Yet until you free up some resources (which they estimate).

A Process Triage Session is an all-day (typically) facilitated workshop with your process’s experts — the go-to professionals who know and live and breath the process. They’ll generate, typically, 35 to 45 Points-of-Pain and triage them into 18 to 24 solutions — (Analyze “x” for a root cause or, Design, Train, and/or Enforce best practice “x”) .

A team’s triage solutions set that consists of mostly Analyze’s (for root causes) or Design’s (best practices or tools) asserts the process’s best practices or tools need definition.  These improvements should be put in place before asking more of the process.  (Otherwise,  you’ll just create crap faster!).  Here’s what that Process Triage Profile looks like:

Heavy Analysis & Design Best Practice Triage Profile Example.

Heavy Analysis & Design Best Practice Triage Profile Example.

If a team’s proposals are mostly Train or Enforce existing best practices or tools,  then the organization’s operating practices need a closer look.   Practices like hiring and performance accountability. Maybe its resource planning and logistics or process control reporting, and so on. That Process Triage Profile looks like this:

Heave Train & Enforce Best Practices (Ops Excellence) Triage Profile

Heave Train & Enforce Best Practices (Ops Excellence) Triage Profile

These different profiles give the leader an at-a-glance picture of what faces them as they undertake continuous improvements.  They can better manage expectations, understand how fast things can improve.  Triaging helps them recognize if their focus should be on better best practices (the first example) or tuning their operating system (the second example).

We’ll include a Process Improvement Profile with our flagship Process Triage Workshop going forward.

Consider your own core, driveshaft process.  From Bid-to-Cash, or Lead-to-Cash — your customer-facing work. What do you suppose your Process Improvement Profile looks like?

 

Chicago. Giordano’s Deep Dish Pizza. Indeed.

Just completed four Vistage talks on triaging in Chicago.

Giorodano's Deep Dish 2

No visit to the Windy City is complete without a dose of Giordano’s Deep Dish.

Indeed.

A Simple Way to Calculate Your Brand’s Value

This thing called a BRAND means a lot of things.  And a lot of noise is blasted about regarding how to design them, build them, exploit them — it’s like a discussion about God; there are few things as complex but everybody’s an expert.

Here’s what works for me, being the second son of a cowboy, born and raised with Border Collies, Blue Heelers,  and Australian Shepherds.   My first exposure to the word “brand” was feeling the white-hot branding iron head welded on the end of a fireplace poker, heat radiating onto my face and up my nose and into my eyes. Then the sound of it sizzling the flank of a tied-down calf and the sound of said calf bellowing out in searing pain and seeing its wild-eyed terror. That’s a brand!  Branding

I think our brand is that lingering feeling someone has, down in their lizard-brain after we’ve touched them.  If we branded them correctly, it’s a pleasant feeling that, at its best, excites some sharing, and at least ends all that analysis hassle of the buying process.  When they see us — the branding in our marketing, that residual feeling butterfly kisses their consciousness.  They’ll do business with us when they need us, no analysis needed.

But…. Show me the money!

 

ValueOfBrand

A simple way  know if you have that kind of brand is separate your sales into two piles: the sales you won by out-bound selling activity and the sales you simply took the order with essentially zero selling.  The sales from simple order-taking is the value of your brand.  What’s your share of revenue is brand-driven?

P.S.  And the Sales Process isn’t done until the next sale is simple order taking.

 

How to Go to Your Go-To People

We know who our Go-To people are.  They’re the ones who Get It, Want It, and have the Capability* to accomplish what needs to be done, or can figure it out.  They are both an essential resource and, if they’re the only go-to for a skill, a big risk if they’re not available.

How we go to our go-to people matters, as every time we touch our staff it matters and has the potential to move our enterprise forward.

Consider, however, that going to them to get something done may not be the best thing, however convenient and safe it may be.

Since the only job security is continuous profitable market share growth, for commercial entities anyway, we need more go-to people. We build new go-to people by training them.

So why not go to our go-to people to teach instead of do?! 

Teacher Watching Student

Making go-to people teachers and trainers builds deepens our talent pool.  As the ability to grow is gated by our ability to delegate, and delegation hates risk, then remove such risks by training others.

Teach our go-to people to teach.

* known as GWC in the Entrepreneurial Operating System, copyright Geno Wickman in Traction.

Two Things You Don’t Mix Together When Motorcycling — or Business

I’m coming up on my 10-year anniversary, Juneteenth — Emancipation Day.  It was a beautiful, Colorado Rockies morning, just west of Carbondale, down the mountain from Aspen on the glorious Crystal River road (Hwy 133).  I failed to brake soon enough at a hard left turn at the bottom of McClure Pass (see below), and launched a brand-spanking new, rented Harley-Davidson Road King into the aspens and hammered my left shoulder into the roadside wild flowers.

mcclure_pass03

Blunt force trauma. Fifteen fractures, including six ribs and a clavicle and some chipped vertebrae.  The Glenwood Springs ER administered a Fentanyl epidural (at T8, after I nearly passed out from pain on the MRI table) and sorted me out.  The follow up, typical of shattered ribs, is six weeks on an Oxycontin base with the occasional Percocet chaser after any kind of cough or incentive spirometer therapy — inhale as much as you can, and suck up the pain (pun intended).

Fortunately, I was armored-up, with a rash-proof jacket and spine and elbow pads and a helmet (which was egg-shelled).

The clavicle was fixated with a titanium rod (still there). A year later, three ribs were pinned together with titanium couplings because the fractured ends would not rejoin.  A day or so after that surgery, a journeyman orthopedist yanked out my chest tube with that modest “This might sting a little (wink wink!).” warning.  It felt a lot like the original crash!

All because I did two things explained by a crusty old hog rider I met a few years later at a bar, savoring a Margarita (Top Shelf, rocks, no salt). He wagged his tattoo-knuckled finger at me and admonished, “Two things you don’t mix together on cycle at the same time: An unfamiliar bike with an unfamiliar road. You can squeeze by on either one of them — you know the road but not the bike, or you know the bike and not the road. But never both.”  I was on a rented touring-size bike on a road I’d only dreamed about.

How pitch-perfectly true. Rider error. No excuses.

It occurred to me this morning, while enjoying that same mountain air in Glenwood Springs — where the Roaring Fork River joins the high-country Colorado River downstream from Vail — that the same two principles apply when leading our company on some new venture (adventure?):  We shouldn’t attempt it if we’re unfamiliar with where we’re going (the road) — confidence isn’t enoigh, or the team (the bike) we’re making the journey with.

I see this a lot with the companies we triage. The leader sets the ‘capability goal’ aggressively enough to challenge the business model to go somewhere new and interesting.  Like growing 2 or 3X.  He or she is usually familiar with their team, but may not really know the road; what life at 2 or 3X; really runs. (Hint: Your culture may keep, but about everything else may change.)

This presses the case to on-board executive or technical experts who know the road, and what changes as we scale up.  For one thing, processes start happening.  Once simple, straightforward work gets divided into silos to be more efficient.  These silos create workflow queues that require management — process management.  But that takes supervisor labor (overhead) that costs more cash — but we’re making more cash so maybe it works. Or maybe it doesn’t, and we need to swap capital for labor, or partner and outsource — things to pay attention to.

The problem is that we don’t know what we don’t know as we take our team to a new scale — this new exciting road.  And what we don’t know might nearly kill us.  The most successful leaders I know have relationships in a network of executives who run enterprises the size they seek, such as Vistage International, a peer advisory association. (Disclaimer:  I’m on the Vistage guest speaker circuit).

So, know your team and know the road.

 

p.s.  I personally thank every cyclist I meet who’s wearing a helmet.

 

 

Culture is a Current, Not a Wave

Process Triaging is a decision cycle leaders follow to generate purposeful improvement solutions and then select and implement the best of them.

The cycle works when its driven from deep within our leadership philosophy — our culture.  A culture of continuous improvement that is not driven by surface events — by waves.

OceanCurrent

The improvements we find and undertake will shield our enterprises from storms and rough waters.  Triaging is a tactic we apply as rudder adjustments at the helm — minor course corrections.  But the practice of triaging — constantly cycling into the best ideas, keeps us centered in the most productive current.  Something that carries us along in the right direction regardless of the wind and waves.

What reminded me of this was last week’s Process Triage Immersion Workshop Sponsor.  In his opening welcome remarks he announced:

“The executive staff will be taking the improvements you triage today very seriously. After the host’s implementation plan is approved, the selected improvements will be part of our performance review and bonus schedule.”

Think about that.

The triage’s executive sponsor places so much trust and faith in the triaging process, that the CEO and principal staff will hold themselves accountable for improvement proposals nominated and prioritized bottoms-up, by those who live and breath the daily work — before they know what they are!

Here’s a video clip of this triage team ranking their improvement solutions. Notice how the culture created by their executives engages and empowers them.

This company will stay in the right currents.

Their culture is correct and runs deep.

Can Process Triaging Work for Small Teams?

I’ve struggled with how to respond to the many requests for process triage support from entrepreneurs and managers who simply don’t have the budget for our flagship, facilitated workshop (on a napkin here).  The short of it is the process mapping we do in the morning, as a team, creates a powerful end-to-end team identity and awareness that’s key to the triage’s final product. That level of effort takes an outside facilitator, especially if it’s a crisis situation.

Is there a way to triage without the team-created process map?

We think so, if its a very small team of no more than six people who know each other’s work and it’s not a break-fix house-on-fire situation. We’re talking about a generally capable team that welcomes more structure to a deliberate continuous process improvement culture.

With that in mind, I designed a Small Team Process Triage Kit. 

Small Team Process Triage Kit

Small Team Process Triage Kit

The kit contains the information, job aids, and supplies to triage a process without a robust process map.  Similar to our flagship workshop, the host manager presents their Process Capability Goal, then the triage team identifies Points-of-Pain. These pain points are addressed by the team’s nomination of Small Now & Big Now action items and projects, followed by their ranking of the entire set of proposals.  It’s designed to be four-hour team exercise with some pre-work by the host.  The host would still draft and submit their 90+Day Implementation Plan to their sponsor after the exercise.

This kit is only suitable for small teams that know each other’s responsibilities and don’t need more than a sketch of their process — something their manager / host could provide.  It’s not designed for cross-organizational process triaging.

So, if you’re looking for a small team team-builder exercise that delegates and elevates your continuous process improvement efforts — deeper into your team, this kit’s for you.

For now, we’re shipping only a hard copy version that includes a 32 page workbook and the materials necessary to perform the triage, available from our website.