I’ve been a fan of Ray Dalio, co-founder of Bridgewater Associates. He recently published Principles: Life and Work is both an autobiography and and exposition of his core values. Mr. Dalio is notably recognized for his emphasis on building an organization that makes great decisions based on radical truth and transparency. Bridgewater is the largest United States hedge fund manager with some $150 Billion under management.
Mr. Dalio itemizes and explains the rationale behind scores of principles. A core set of these principles is his 5-Step Process (about page 260 on my ebook) for improving an organization. Each step is listed below, followed by how our flagship Process Triage workshop practices these steps. (I’m not saying PT does these 5-Steps the way Bridgewater does, but we follow the pattern.)
- Have clear goals.
The Process Triage workshop’s prework includes a Process Capability Goal. It describes what the process we’re triaging must be capable of performing and delivering in measurable terms. If the process can sustain the goal, it will contribute its share of a larger organizational objective. The workshop’s executive sponsor assigns this goal’s writing to an understudy (the workshop host) for professional development. Every improvement the triage team proposes and prioritizes will, if implemented, deliver progress towards this goal.
- Identify the problems preventing the goals from being achieved.
We identify problems — we call them Pain Points, with the most believable, Go-to experts in the process we’re triaging. They’re hand picked by the host. Each triage team consists of the most believable, closest-to-the-work performers of the work. Every pain point must be described in measurable terms — counting how much and how often something happens that inhibits the capability goal. It’s radically truthful and radically transparent. Each triager is provided the respect, empathy, and listened-to attention as they identify pain points. Given each triager sees only a portion of the whole process, they’ll see pain points across the whole process after everyone’s contributed. Their situational awareness and diagnostic insights make all of them smarter than any one of them.
- Diagnose parts of the machine.
Using the ProcessTriage® Protocol, the team examines each pain point and selects the type of solution and sizes its level of effort. The four solutions are:
ANALYZE a pain point for a cause that’s not obvious, then triage that cause(s).
DESIGN a best practice (procedure, tool, technology, policy, instruction, etc.) that stops the problem.
TRAIN an existing best practice.
ENFORCE a trained best practice.
The typical, 10-member triage team will sort (not solve), size, and prioritize about 20 improvements per workshop from 30 pain points. Every proposal is believable and has strategic fit.
- Design changes
Each triage generates a Process Triage Profile™, much like a personality profile like Meyers-Briggs or DISC®. This profile highlights how much best practice design work is needed compared to training and enforcing existing best practices. This gives improvement leaders a clear-eyed understanding about what they face in reaching their goals. You cannot scale a process with design issues — you’ll just create crap faster if you hit the gas. If the focus is training and enforcement, it’s all about people and resource management.
- Doing what’s needed.
The triage workshop’s Host writes the post-triage implementation plan and submits this to the Sponsor. (Our certified facilitator coaches as needed.) This plan should be signature ready and executable when approved.
Radical truth and radical transparency sounds good. We know it works when we create an expert facilitated space for teams to experience it respectfully and emphatically.
If your core process team welcomes an immersion in this, give us a call.
All of us are smarter than any one of us.
P.S. The Process Triage Primer (32-pages of the essentials) is published.