Picking a Process that Matters

I find it hilarious when I’m on a project and we talk about the reasons why a process MUST stay in place and the following phrases are uttered:

  • We’ve had it this way all this time
  • It doesn’t make sense to change when we are doing it (especially when you as an outsider can clearly see that there are problems)
  • It will upset xxxxxxx to change this as it was their process
  • Oh you can change it if you want but I choose not to participate (insert a more politically-stated version here)

My career path for a long time has been focused on listening to a process and understanding how that could fit within new technology (in most cases that would be something in the Salesforce ecosystem). I say this because that part of my job usually results in:

  • Forcing the software to assume the existing processes
  • Forcing the process to work with the software

Secret Option C

Now the real answer to all of this is “Secret Option C”. I use Secret Option C often in discussions because it accurately describes the true answer to everyone’s exceptions above.

Secret Option C is simply the “Why not both?” answer. When all the processes are recognized and the technology is understood, most people realize:

  • Some of the old processes are there for a reason
  • But the goal of newer technology is not necessarily to speed up the same process, especially one that is broken
  • A group of people’s ability to absorb massive change is not great. A single individual sure but a group? To use a great line: “Yeah.. No.”

About Picking a Process

Listed above were the excuses to not change and listed above are the reasons why completely changing a process is rarely the answer. How do we go about picking the process that represents the “best fit” in regards to people AND technology.

If you were hoping for me to tell you all the answers, sorry, that is not happening. Instead however I will give you insights for success.

Please Document It

Document the current process. Use a tool (Lots. Of. Options)or even a piece of paper and write it down.

Start with the actual process itself. Ask:

  • What information must we have to start this step?
  • What information must change to leave this step?
  • Are there decisions in the step?
  • Who/What makes the decisions?
  • Is time a factor here?

Take a moment and sketch and outline and then slowly fill in the details. Better to have this rough and know that there are missing pieces than to toil on one small part and then not be able to “see the forest”.

Talk About Successes and Failures

This is one of my favorites. Ask around about the successes and failures of the current process. People tend to defend a process they are emotionally invested in and find faults with the opposite. Take some time and ask around. But ultimately you are trying to get to the next step.

Big hint here: have these successes and failures linked somehow to your process chart. That way you can visualize how this fits.

Determine the “Why”

When you have the process and reasons, determine the “why?” factor.

  • Why is it successful?
  • Why is it a big failure?
  • Why has it not been changed?
  • Why have past attempts at change fail?

Without understanding the “why” you cannot achieve the next step.

Design a “Best Fit”

The big crock of no-no when talking about this topic is simply that there is a solution. When I started doing this work, I assumed that with the correct mix of tools and process everything would be solved.

HA! The conversation is not that there is a solution but that there is enough compromise from both the technology and the people that the “Best Fit” can be achieved.

I remember a former co-worker’s favorite saying, “Perfect is the enemy of good” when it came to process. If we work so hard to make a process perfect we will rarely arrive at a solution. We need good solutions that represent the best fit to the problems and situations in front of us. Once that is implemented, revisions can happen.

Change is constant.. ugh.

Get Feedback

Once the “Best Fit” is reached, it is important to gather feedback. Not everyone is going to appreciate the final solution but no feedback and buy-in will result in a failed change more times than not.

I am not suggesting that everyone involved gets a say, nor am I suggesting that everyone’s opinion has the same weight. But I am suggesting that allowing people to have their opinion heard and discussed usually turns into acceptance and adhesion.

Implement and Measure

You turn on your new process. Congrats. How are you measuring the impact to your organization? Some organizations create a goal or metric based on process change. Some others “wing” it and ask for opinions.

Depending on the culture, the answer is unique. (all my data-loving friends just cried a little) But ultimately how you measure and report back is critical.

Because the measurements tell you how to adjust and catch missed opportunities or incorrect process. Getting ahead is important.

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