I can do that. I can do that. How am I going to do that?


    There is an old commercial that has a person saying, " I can do that. I can do that. How am I going to do that?"

    That is the situation with a lot of Business Process Improvement efforts.

    I just came back from a Business Process Innovation conference. There were a lot of uplifting speeches about how you need to be running at full speed with respect to competition or otherwise you will be run down.

    Or how your competition may rewrite the rules of doing your business and you will have to respond quickly!

    Or try to match your competitor’s 80 day Turn Around Time business process. Except you have yours currently running at 150 days!

    You keep saying  "I can do that. I can do that. How am I going to do that?".

    Except there may be a systematic framework that can accomplish this. Organizations have come up with many "rules of thumb" like the seven kinds of waste that the Toyota Production System recommends you eliminate from your business process:

    1. Overproduction – Keep Things Flowing and Fast

    2. Inventory – Eliminate Waiting In between Steps

    3. Waste of Motion – Use Scanning and Digitization

    4. Waste of Transport – Use Scanning, Digitization and automated Workflow

    5. Overly Complex Processing Methods – Is it a Value Adding or a Non-Value Adding process step?

    6. Defects – Errors cost money, time and result in customer dissatisfaction. How can we make a process Error-Proof?

    7. Waste of Waiting – Multi-skilling helps people do other things while waiting, breaks monotony and makes people experts at many things!

    Worrying about the notation of the current business process may take time and attention away from process improvement.

    The end goal is not to perfect a business process but to get work done or service delivered to a customer or to decide on a loan or to collect outstanding money. The process is just a tool.

    Worrying about little nuances of the process itself is like spending time sharpening your chisel endlessly rather than carve something nice! 

    It may pay to spend time on techniques, frameworks and toolboxes for process improvement also. Not all of them may be useful but many of them will spark ideas about what could be done to improve processes. You need to have them at the ready so that you can pick the right set of tools for the process improvement task at hand.

    You don’t need to end your sentences with "How can I do that?"

    Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.

    — Alan Lakein