I’ve posted a short video How to Read our Process Triage Maps — the essentials in about six minutes. I review the process triage results notation afterwards. This includes an overview of process triaging.
I love to hear and read company origin stories. Founders enjoy telling them.
Bob Bender (my manager) and I knew we had something special when the first team to “triage” their process gobsmacked us. I can still fill the rush.
Hat tip to Virginia and Carol, who were there at the beginning. The “DS-3 (a.k.a. T-3*) Circuit Activation” Process. 33 days long, of which we had 23 days of responsibility in which there were only 91 minutes of uninterrupted work most favorable case.
I was asked to record Process Triage’s story so HERE (6:45) it is. What surprised me was how much it energized me, now eight years into my company’s journey, after about 15 years of learning it at Sprint Corporation (hat tip Bob, Anita, Cloene, Dennis, and George).
Was my hair ever that color really?
* A “DS3 or T–3″ carrier is a digital transmission that consists of 672 individual channels, each of which supports 64 Kbps using pulse code modulation (PCM) signals with time-division multiplexing (TDM). It was the largest dedicated circuit sold at that time.
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.
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.
Practically every incremental improvement to the Process Triaging experience has come from client observations.
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:
- Win the first impression and reinforce it at every customer touch.
- Estimate the job and win the bid with enough margin.
- Plan and prepare the crew-day for a have-what-you-need truck roll – skills, tools and supplies.
- 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.
- Complete the job accounting paperwork in a timely manner.
- 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:
- The front desk phone staff and on-site crew chiefs can master the first impression.
- The job estimators can master the bidding.
- The dispatch manager or crew chief can master the day’s job sheets and crew staging.
- The on-site supervisor can master the day’s project work.
- The crew chief and the accountants can master the job paperwork.
- 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.
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?”
Read the entire report here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call Joseph (Rosey) Rosenberger @ 913.269.3410 to move your needle.