I now have a rough idea of the processes that need to be documented.
And this is where things can get a little hairy….
I’ve learned that anytime you document human processes you learn:
- What is “supposed” to happen (often “management’s” perspective of the situation)
- What actually happens (usually discovered when you are talking to the people who actually do the work)
- The interesting behavior that occurs among your stakeholders when you uncover the difference between the two.
So why the gap?
- Work-arounds because the process is too slow, too kludgy, too dependent upon another
- The tools that the process relied upon didn’t work quite right when they implemented the process and they never bothered to retrain after the initial implementation…..
- The designed process doesn’t create the designed result, but no one will tell the process designer (often an executive-type) – so this is the cover-up
- “But we’ve always done it this way” (cites process they learned when they joined the company 20 years ago)
- Someone is leveraging the process for his/her personal ends …. Thankfully, this is infrequent.
This is why it is really important to talk to the people actually DOING the process. Not just the managers. Because often the managers are hearing what their staff wants them to hear. And/or they don’t want to admit that parts of their process don’t work.
A lot of time and thought and heartache and soul-searching are usually involved in any process improvement process.
- The admission something is not working
- Feelings of shame because something in your area is not working
- Wanting to prove competence
- Wanting to improve a situation for themselves, while negotiating around others who want the same thing, just maybe in a different way. And the emotional stress of those negotiations
The big reason why I have seen process improvement projects stall is because no one accounts for the emotions involved. You are shaking up their comfort zone. Often FORCING change and doing so in ways that only benefit one group of stakeholders without considering the others.
There’s something that works in the “way they’ve always done it.”
If not practically (anymore), at least emotionally.