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What is Process Triaging? in 2 Minutes

If you boil Process Triaging down to its first essential deliverable, it’s The List of process capability improvement proposals.  This list is created and prioritized for immediate execution by your hand-picked triage team.

Here’s a 2 minute YouTube® clip about it — What is Process Triaging?  The List

Thumnail

The facilitated Process Triage Workshop offers a number of other value propositions, such as team building, team conflict resolution, and continuous improvement team development.  But the bottom line is it generates the list of improvement proposals that will most certainly improve your operational performance if you implement the list.

 

 

What are your ‘Get My Thing Rights?’ (Lessons from our construction trades triages)

Practically every incremental improvement to the Process Triaging experience has come from client observations.

A+InsullationTraigeTeam

A week or so ago we triaged a construction trades company, adding to the our portfolio of case studies.  We’ve triaged a roofing, flat work, electrical (residential dispatch and commercial), post-construction water treatments, and insulation (retrofit and new commercial) companies, as well as a variety of construction contractors who subcontract to them.

While each of these construction trade-based companies provides different services, they follow a similar business model.  Their driveshaft process follows the same pattern:

  1. Win the first impression and reinforce it at every customer touch.
  2. Estimate the job and win the bid with enough margin.
  3. Plan and prepare the crew-day for a have-what-you-need truck roll – skills, tools and supplies.
  4. Complete the work safely, professionally, and  on schedule, with the quality promised, constantly training the less experienced due to high semi-skilled labor turn-over.
  5.  Complete the job accounting paperwork in a timely manner.
  6. Do all the above at a repeatable  top-of-the-Angie’s List® level satisfaction.

What’s remarkable about these six common behaviors in this kind of driveshaft is that every one of these six behavioral indicators can be delegated to someone to get right.  Depending on the size (# of crews) of the company, different team members can keep an eye on each one:

  1. The front desk phone staff and on-site crew chiefs can master the first impression.
  2. The job estimators can master the bidding.
  3. The dispatch manager or crew chief can master the day’s job sheets and crew staging.
  4. The on-site supervisor can master the day’s project work.
  5. The crew chief and the accountants can master the job paperwork.
  6. The customer service and follow-up staff, likely the front desk, can keep an eye on customer satisfaction.

In other words, every driveshaft process has a punch list of  Get My Thing Right’s

So we’re adding this punch list to our 90+Day Process Capability Improvement Plan template.  At least one ‘Get My Thing Right’ for each segment on our triage maps.

What are the ‘Get My Thing Rights’ on your driveshaft?

Now back to listening.

 

 

What Triagers Like Most About Our Basic Triaging Workshop

The facts will set you free, to borrow a sacred phrase.

When I have time, I compile the results of the most recent Process Triage workshops, our flagship service.  We always ask participants — the triagers, specifically (not the sponsors or hosts) what they thought of the workshop.

One of the five questions is,’What did you like most?”

September 2015 Sample from the most recent 100+ Basic Workshop participants.

September 2015 Sample from the most recent 100+ Basic Workshop participants.

 

Read the entire report here.

Launching a Cross-Organizational Project with a Triage

Our ProcessTriage workshop (on a napkin here) is positioned to sync up a highly siloed team and generate a list of a dozen or two high value process capability improvements in one intense day.  Typically , the sponsor is wanting to fix what’s broken by empowering those who do the work to lead the improvements.

The triage workshop is also an effective kick-off event for finalizing a complex project’s work breakdown structure, where experts from different departments — even companies, must sync up.  The scope of work of requires multiple cycles of a similar project (such as touching multiple locations with the same changes).

We were pleased to lead such a pre-launch triage, hosted by Cisco Systems (CSCO), which included knowledge experts from their customer, T-Mobile (TMUS) and Cisco’s subcontractor, General Datatech (GDT).  T-Mobile subcontracted Cisco to make certain changes in a number of network locations.

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The triaging protocol is essentially the same as a break-fix triage.

The triage  team maps a typical project cycle’s (the work of one iteration) work breakdown structure (WBS), as a Project is merely one cycle of a Process — so process mapping is essentially the same as outlining a project WBS.

The  Process Capability Goal for a pre-launch triage focuses on delivering a sustainable level of quality after a few learning curve cycles, and then running additional project iterations on time and on budget.

The Points of Pain are what the team estimates will prevent a successful project launch initially, and inefficiencies to fight off after the learning curve.

The Small Now’s action item-size improvements and Big Now’s project-size improvements are, taken together, the specific deliverables in the project’s risk mitigation strategy.  These Small’s and Big’s are front loaded immediately, especially the action items or projects that must be completed before the first project cycle or iteration.

Hat tip to James Farrell (executive sponsor) and  Tom Tinsley (host) of Cisco Systems.

When to Put Your Partner Hat On

I received a ‘Client in Distress’ call a few weeks ago.  The  triage sponsor calling ‘Mayday!, Mayday!” had been a successful host of a previous triage a year or so ago.

They had contracted with a the top tier telecommunications company to handle some network equipment upgrades and, along with their subcontractor, decreed a ‘freeze all work’ time out period because initial attempts had adversely impacted the telco’s network.

So we triaged some high-rick equipment scenarios with about 20 of the various experts — engineers and field technicians. They nominated and ranked a dozen Small Now’s (action item-size) and Big Now’s (project-size) proposals.  The program mangers (the triage hosts) baked the triage results into decision brief to report out to the telco — their customer.

This conversation with their telco customer was successful, reflecting completed staff work, great solutions, and an action plan to execute immediately.   The customer – supplier relationship is crystal clear in these kind of ‘How we’re going to pick up and wash off the candy we dropped in the dirt.’ encounters.

But what the triage revealed was the customer performed certain tasks in the equipment upgrade process they could not delegate, using equipment databases the supplier could not steward.  In other words, to process of upgrading the network required the customer to remove their customer hat and exchange it for a partner — team member hat.  This necessity was made obvious by the points-of-pain in the triage and the solutions that only the Customer could resolve.

Lesson Learned:  If you subcontract work out to a supplier, but the business process your suppler must manage requires deliverables only you can provide — your subcontracting orientation ends where process execution begins.  At that point, you need and must be a partner.

One of the triage exhibits was the triage / process map with the deliverables the Customer was responsible for, noting the business risks of failure to do so.

Self cleaning, too

I’m a huge fan of Seth Godin, and enthusiastically recommend his daily blog (here).  Today’s post, titled Self cleanining talks about building things, like a self-cleaning oven, and maintain itself.

Relationships, processes, interactions–these can be self cleaning too, if we build them that way. Seth Godin

Applying the ProcessTriage Decision Cycle to a high-value business process makes it self-cleaning. It keeps the process focused on the enterprise’s most strategic objectives, while fixing the myriad of dysfunctions that appear in the daily, normal course of operations.

1a Process Triage on a Napkin

Making business process self-cleaning takes teamwork.  Three roles or voices have to sing their parts and do certain things in the right order.

Self-cleaning business processes create self-correcting business models.

Don’t ‘Ready – Fire – Aim’ your Six Sigma Black Belts!

I have an abiding respect and admiration for 6-Sigma Black Belts. They are the perfect weapon for bagging process improvements, not unlike one of my favorite rifles, the Accuracy International AX series.

AI-AX_rifle

6-Sigma Black Belts, like the rifle pictured above, can be a no-substitute need in one situation and over-kill (no pun intended) in another.  They’re not cheap to acquire, use or maintain, so you want to aim them at what merits their capabilities.

That’s where Process Triaging comes in. Process Triaging generates high value targets for Black Belts, be it a 6-Sigma focus (to reduce process variation) or LEAN focus (for removing waste and speeding things up without sacrificing quality).   The typical triage session generates 20 process improvements, flushed out and prioritized by your own process experts.  Of those 20 or so, there will be some fat, Black Belt-worthy opportunities, now mostly business cased because that’s what triaging provides.

If you have Black Belts working for you, triage the processes in the landscape you want them improving.

If you’re thinking about hiring Black Belts, Process Triage first, to focus your job interviews and resume fit checks.

If you have a Black Belt that’s not getting support from the front line experts, for whatever reason — Process Triage to get everyone on the same page.

Bottom line — Aim your Black Belts through Process Triaging (on a napkin here) and a 2-pager on  Triaging First (here).

 

 

Process Triaging Moves the Gallup Q12 Employee Engagement Needle

The now famous Gallup® Q12 Employee Engagement Survey (here) has been a benchmark for a number of years.  Gallup® asserts:

“The findings consistently show that the relationship between each element of engagement and performance at the workgroup level is sustainable and highly generalizable across organizations. That means no matter how you look at it, when your Q12 scores improve, and the result is consistently better outcomes.”

The ProcessTriage® Immersion Workshop (summary here) supports all of Gallup’s engagement dimensions to some degree, the strength of support indicated by a maximum of 4 stars ****.  PDF version of this mapping here.

Gallup® Q12  Engagement Question

Strength

ProcessTriage® Immersion Workshop

1 I know what is expected of me at work. **** Every workshop deliverable reinforces work expectations, from mapping the triaged process to prioritizing the process capability improvements.
2 I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right. *** The Points-of-Pain identify missing resources and their resolution proposals will provide what is needed.
3 At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day. **** Triagers leverage their expertise and insights throughout the triage.
4 In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work. **** Invitation to be a triager is recognition and praise.
5 My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person. *** Like Q4, the triager would not be invited unless a leader cared about them.
6 There is someone at work who encourages my development. *** The immersion workshop is a professional development experience.
7 At work, my opinions seem to count. **** All the results of the triage are participant-driven.
8 The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important. **** The host’s Process Capability Goal binds the company’s mission to the triager’s job.
9 My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work. *** The workshop exhibits team member commitment to quality work.
10 I have a best friend at work” is really a proxy for trust. We are interested only in whether there is a person at work whom you would consider a best friend “at work”. ** Friendships are built during the immersion workshop.  While team building is not the primary objective, a full day of problem identification and solution nomination cements friendships.
11 In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress * This is true if the participation in the workshop was part of a professional development narrative.
12 This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow. **** This will certainly be true after the triage, looking forward to the next year.

 

ProcessTriage® surveys participants after each immersion workshop.  A summary of recent results support improved team collaboration and a respectful use of their time (Rosey’s blog post here).

Contact us at info@processtriage.com or call Joseph (Rosey) Rosenberger @ 913.269.3410 to move your needle.

Let There Be… A Process Map

I’ve been asked several times to write a post in the popular Top “#” List format of what I’ve learned from triaging these many years and businesses.  It’s a long list as one can imagine, and what happens in what order depends upon the situation.  But one thing always comes first, when we’re talking about actually improving a business into a self-healing, continuously learning enterprise. We need some light.

By analogy, in the Jewish Bible’s Creation account in Genesis,  the text anthropomorphically presents the process as declarations of ‘And God said…’, and whatever God said came into existence.  The first openly spoken ‘And God said…’ is in Chapter 1, verse 3:

“‘And God said let there be light’,  and there was light.”

This light was not solor or photon-based light, as that kind of light is not added until three steps later, on the fourth day.  So what kind of light was this primordial stuff?

The Sages say this first light was like the light we turn on in a dark room so we interact with the room; to walk around in it and not stumble, or see its dimensions to decorate it.  The first thing we need is to create is that which enables us to have a relationship with what we’re creating. We cannot improve what we cannot see.

When it comes to creating and growing and fixing and improving businesses, we need to turn on this kind of  light.  We must create something that allows us to have a relationship with the management team we need, as well as those who will do the work or handle the technologies that will do the work.

This first creation is The Process Map —  an illustration of how work flows between the enterprise and her customers. The map also exposes how people and technologies interact with each other, such as who provides what to whom. The process map captures the idea of the enterprise and gives us a way to relate to it, and everything in it to us — a two way proposition.

At ProcessTriage®, the first thing we do in our flagship immersion workshop is build this map. It typically takes most of the morning and uses an very fast Action>Result format, examples here, here, and here (different industries).  The style comes from a very fast way to design information systems databases that accelerate business processes (primer here)

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Do you feel like you’re in the dark while your trying to fix or improve how things are running?

Turn on the process map.

P.S.  I read an ultra-orthodox Jewish commentary on Genesis 1:3 written during WWII, while the Manhattan Project was underway (the first atomic bomb) that asserted there had to be a layer of energy smaller than the atom, as the atom was the stuff of visible light — fourth day light. The commentary asserted the Big Bang theory was very likely correct and we should expect to find stuff smaller than atoms — the world of particle physics. Who knew!

The Rosey-isms List

Here it is — my list of rules, laws, axioms, truisms, and blinding flashes of the obvious, in no particular order — thoughts that have stuck to my cranium wall after leading hundreds of process triages (on a napkin here).

I hope this list is be good enough to bookmark and I promise to keep it fresh.

  • Usually, it is unwise to fix the most squeaky wheel first.

    Almost every process triage workshop (overview here) illustrates why the most painful points on a process are not necessarily the first improvement investment.  Every point-of-pain, where the process is not behaving right, requires an investment to remove, either an action item-size Small Now or a project-size Big Now.  The triage team ranks remedies, not the amount of pain.  Quite often, a single quite point of pain, usually near the start of a process delivers the most capability improvement compared to where all hell breaks loose downstream.  These less obvious fixes often pay for the workshop’s opportunity costs.

  • If you don’t fix the quality of your work first, you’ll just create crap faster.

    You’d be surprised how often this is overlooked.  Of course, we’re not talking about designed speed where we intend to re-cycle and improve immediately, such as in Agile software development.When we look at a list of triage results — the Small Now’s action item-size  and Big Now’s project-size list, we recommend the process delay volume increases until most of the remaining items are “Enforce –‘x'”, as opposed to Analyze, Design, or Train.

  • Task complexity increases with volume.

    What works at ‘x’ volume blows up at ‘2x’ or ’10x’ volume, especially if it involved human labor.  Processing 25 paychecks every other week is QuickBooks® simple. Cutting 20,000 3rd Party commission sales force pay checks, where each SKU has a different compensation rate, off a base of 1 million point-of-sale transactions per month, is astonishingly difficult.  One of PT’s early successes was triaging such a process, hat tip Wendy Cogan, the host.

    This is why Google can’t update software very fast anymore.  Or why anything attempted by the federal government that involves transacting with hundreds of millions of citizens is incapable of being created quickly (Obamacare exchanges), which is why the smartphone mobile app world is so compelling — it forces simplicity.

  • Individual experts cannot fix what only teams can find.

    All of us are smarter than any one of usI cannot count the number of times one member of a triage team identified a process’s point of pain in which the solution was obvious to another team member who specialized in an upstream or downstream activity or silo.  And very often, the solution is not the obvious one, nor is it the one the executive would have pointed out.

  • You can free up cash to use elsewhere by (1) borrowing it at interest, (2) trading equity for it, (3) outsourcing necessary  work cheaper, or (4) improving insufficiently capable, cash leaking  processes you should own and lead.  Continuous Process Improvement (#4) demands you actually lead an organization.

    There are a number of tactics the CEO can apply to raise cash without involving more than a few staff members, like borrowing money, trading equity for some, or deciding not to do work others do as well or better less expensively.  But freeing up or generating cash through on-going operations requires business process improvement, which is a TEAM activity.  Improving team performance requires leadership.

  •  A Process Capability Goal is to process performance what Strategic Objectives are to enterprise performance.

    If  there is one behavioral indicator — one thing to look for, to determine if a business process is well-managed, it is the presence or absence of a Process Capability Goal (PCG – template here).   If the managers of a process do not know how well it must behave, in a manner that, if sustained, will deliver its share of the firms financial goals, it will be chaos and ill-conceived and  unfocused improvements.

  • Only managed processes are scalable.

    A process is not scalable that is not measure for speed, quality at essential points, and unit cost consumption.  Period. Full Stop.

  • You don’t understand your process completely until you can see it as a flow of cash.

    Seeing a process as a flow of cash separates candidate executives from impostors, for financial acumen and managerial accounting is lingua franca  of executive management.  As I’ve said, while stomping my feet for emphasis, “Money isn’t everything but it pays the bills for everything ultimately.  Every improvement that improves a process’s capability should make sense financially, and that story cannot be told unless one is aware of how and where a process consumes cash.  So teach your front-line experts, those who see the most capability-inhibiting issues, how their process eats or generates cash.

  • If you will not delegate a task, when it can be delegated, you are the bottleneck that inhibits your growth.

    As an enterprise grows, the time demands on the CEO are more outward facing, with investors and strategic customers and constituencies, leaving less time for inward, operational attentions. The roles of CEO and COO must split into different people.  COO responsibilities cannot be delegated if the business operating model does not push continuous process improvement tactics down into production spaces — delegated to them.  Process triaging is all about teaching and establishing operational improvements.

  • Don’t necessarily fix what you have not counted.

    Do not change your business model unless the one-time problem was obviously catastrophic.  Just count it instead and determine if it will repeat.  After counting it and establishing a trend, then fix it.