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What is the process for making updates to our Processes?

ukrainka85

Starting to get Involved
#1
I am working on implementing change management processes and improving how we manage and communicate about changes to internal processes. For example, to reduce downstream effects of process updates that were not discussed in time with stakeholders, and that affect hand-off and processes in other departments. For example, certainly manufacturing processes have more control, but I am also thinking that additional process should have a way to be communicated, approved and implemented in a more structured way vs the department simply making changes to what is relevant to them and releasing the update that can break or delay another department. Does anyone have any advice/guidance on how best to implement more structure around process updates and which processes should have more control around them? Would this fit under change control?
 

John Broomfield

Staff member
Super Moderator
#2
Do not chop up your processes with departmental boundaries (see silos).

Usually process teams comprise members from several departments. Processes are cross-functional. This may conflict with the traditional hierarchy as budgets and authority tend to be departmental.

This is why organizations developing their process-based management systems often assign the best person available to act as the process owner for each and every process.

The process owner then is the person who engages the process team members in their review of proposed changes with the promise to reconcile every review comment.

This system manager overlooks change management to involve the owners of other processes than may be affected by the change.
 

ukrainka85

Starting to get Involved
#3
I appreciate the feedback, John. Definitely something I'm trying to accomplish. The issue we have is the processes in my organization are already chopped up. And it's been a really difficult journey to try and unite them in the way that they should actually be: cross-functional. Because right now, we are pretty silo'ed and some teams/locations hoard information, go rogue or implement changes without proper evaluation by affected stakeholders, we run into issues. I am trying to educate and encourage a process-oriented mentality, but it's been very slow buy-in. So my message above about change management of processes) is one of the ways that I hope to bridge these gaps between departments and get them to start communicating and thinking in terms of the full process. The problem we have is when certain departments say us/them; I don't know what that team does; here in <department x> we do it like this and we know better, etc. rhetoric that doesn't achieve collaboration and a streamlined process-mindset.
 

Ronen E

Problem Solver
Staff member
Super Moderator
#4
The problem we have is when certain departments say us/them; I don't know what that team does; here in <department x> we do it like this and we know better, etc.
Sounds like the real issue is lack of solidarity and a sense of common goals. The issues you experience with change control are just a symptom.

I'm no expert on team building, but you may want to consider:

- "Educating" all teams and sites about the overall structure of the org, how each team/department fits in, what each does and why each one is important (eradicate / de-legitimise "I don't know what that team does").

- Mediation-style exchanges between 2-3 teams at a time (identify the most problematic and start there) - Let them present and work out together what each team's goals are. The real challenge is to reveal "soft" goals, i.e. not directly related to productivity and official department goals - they need to feel safe and comfortable for that to happen, so try to promote a safe and positive atmosphere. Once they understand what each other's goals are, they can work out what they each can do in order to help the other party get closer to their goals. In short, promote an "I'll scratch your back and you'll scratch mine" mentality.

Of course, you won't come near solving anything if top management doesn't care about (or doesn't understand) the issues, and doesn't buy into improvement efforts. Maybe first you need to secure that.
 

ukrainka85

Starting to get Involved
#5
Thank you, Ronen, for these suggestions. You're absolutely right - this is a systemic issue due to lack of solidarity and also not good guidance from the top. We've done a lot of mergers back to back and the culture suffered big time. I do appreciate your suggestion about the exercises. This will give an opportunity for the teams to connect. Do you think this can be done effectively via virtual sessions? I am used to working with the teams virtually, and generally think that it can be OK as long as the participants know that there is an expectation to participate.
 

Ronen E

Problem Solver
Staff member
Super Moderator
#6
Thank you, Ronen, for these suggestions. You're absolutely right - this is a systemic issue due to lack of solidarity and also not good guidance from the top. We've done a lot of mergers back to back and the culture suffered big time. I do appreciate your suggestion about the exercises. This will give an opportunity for the teams to connect. Do you think this can be done effectively via virtual sessions? I am used to working with the teams virtually, and generally think that it can be OK as long as the participants know that there is an expectation to participate.
I would not recommend doing it remotely, though I understand that that might be a given due to geography. The "educational" part I mentioned before is probably more suitable for remote internal "webinars", but the other part is more tricky.

Cooperating with you - a "neutral" middleman (?) - may be okay remotely, but in order to bring down barriers of suspicion (different sites, historically different companies) people need to spend significant time together in the same physical space. If they have coffee together and chat about their kids and hobbies during breaks, they usually realise that the other is not that bad, maybe even quite awesome. Additionally, there's this horrible dynamic in remote communication where it's so much easier to be cold/stubborn/hurtful from a safe distance. People will probably think twice about how they treat a real, breathing person the is right in front of them.
 

John Broomfield

Staff member
Super Moderator
#7
ukrainka85,

I agree with Ronen.

Face to face but with authority delegated from the CEO.

Start with getting to top manager onside. Prepare by showing the core process that runs from understanding customer needs all the way through to cash in the bank. Show how the organization working as a system of interacting processes can convert customer needs into cash in the bank faster while fulfilling its mission.

Then have the leader announce the change and why it is so desperately needed for everyone to work together on the organization’s processes to create more (successful) customers. And that you are exactly the right person to facilitate this change.

You may also need to understand the history as to why the organization chose to develop its department-based management system in the first place. Processes are meant to keep customers happy whereas departments tend to focus on keeping the bosses happy.

Forgive me if i have made this a bigger problem than it needs to be.

Best of luck,

John
 

ukrainka85

Starting to get Involved
#8
John and Ronen,

Thanks both for the feedback. I will continue to think about how I can make these improvements work. Unfortunately, the top management seems disconnected in terms of implementation follow-through. There is strategy and lofty conversations about what we need to do, but at the actual process level things break down because people indeed say hurtful things or go around in circles just to bring up irrelevant topics and exceptions to show why a particular improvement is not going to work in their area.

Anyway. I do appreciate the idea of explaining it to top manager first. I did explain to my direct manager (who is a director) that we spent $x on meetings which did not yield any results in the past year. I thought that he would have asked me to present/share this information with our VP, but he shrugged it off. I really do want to show to the business that we are better off from the bottom line perspective by working together, but haven't been successful with it yet.
 

Ronen E

Problem Solver
Staff member
Super Moderator
#9
Extracting synergy from mergers is a fine idea in theory, but I think that in practice few have a clear idea how to pull it off, and even less care to see it through. Boards sometimes call it a day when legal sign the papers off, and can't really be bothered with piecing the parts together to actually make it work. It takes insight and determination to drive sustainable growth (i.e. not just hype-driven share-price spiking) at the bottom line. I learned that from Warren Buffet's accounts of his activity over 50 years.

@ukrainka85, I'm sorry to say it but you sound kind of doomed... As soon as you explained that department and site barriers are remnants from incomplete mergers (incomplete in the broader sense) it became painfully clear that you're up for an uphill battle.
 

John Broomfield

Staff member
Super Moderator
#10
You may have a major system nonconformity along the lines of “failure to plan and prepare for the merger of two management systems so the one merged system is process-based and effective”.

Assemble the evidence carefully so it is indisputable and include the top manager on the corrective action team.
 
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