People, Process and Technology; a mantra of an earlier time in the technology industry.
I have written much about the importance of people; I am a resolute believer that organisations have an idle capability within them as those in leadership positions ‘talk at people’ rather than ‘with people’. By talking at people, people will revert to somebody else’s expectations and their potential contribution is unrealised. Through ‘talking with’ people, a shared understanding is developed, and choices made. Those choices are highly likely to include some discretionary effort from people; choice is the most exceptional personal motivator.
Sometimes it’s challenging to have people open-up about something. As a middle man with middle-aged men friends, there are some parallels to how men consider and approach counselling. Some men find it difficult to see a counsellor; however, working together in a men’s shed has proved a successful way for men’s social support and camaraderie. Men who are marginalised and isolated have benefited from this critical initiative, working ‘shoulder to shoulder’. Organisations can learn from this, and particularly technology teams were there are many talented potentially intellectually idle people.
Many who work within the technology industry are introverts; often, their thoughts are not shared and left unsaid in environments that are “talking at”. Based on my personal experience over several decades at various organisations in different parts of the world, the thoughts from the introverted community are generally well developed, thought through before being shared.
Talking with people about “Processes” is a way to create an environment of working shoulder to shoulder with everyone. It also invites everyone to participate. There is a methodology that can be utilised to engage these groups. Six Sigma has a structured approach to analysing and refining processes, known as DMAIC.
What is the problem?
What is the scope?
What key metric is important?
Who are the stakeholders?
What data is available?
Is the data accurate?
What are the root causes of the problem?
Have the root causes been verified?
Where should the effort be focussed?
What are the possible solutions?
How can the solutions be piloted?
What were the results of the pilot?
How can variances be reduced?
What is the preferred solution?
What is the broader support for this solution?
How can this solution be implemented?
There was an extreme positioning during the 1990s and early 2000s from those within organisations that were certified/accredited in Six Sigma. These people, in some instances, became a group of fanatics with almost a religious zeal endeavouring to grow their congregation. In some organisations, their evangelism alienated broader populations and the good practices of rational process analysis subsided.
Process; is the new black, why and how?
Those organisations that have implemented Digital Business Models have outperformed their industries profitability by 25% (more here), achieved by;
Getting closer to end customers
Moving from supplier models to digital ecosystems.
Consider applying DMAIC with the objective of “moving closer to end customers”;
Moving closer to end customer is the scope of the problem (Define)
What customer data is available across your industry or within your organisation? (Measure)
What is distancing the relationship with the customer? (Analyse)
What are the solutions that can be piloted and their results? (Measure)
Further, there is another structured approach within Six Sigma that can help with moving from supplier models to digital ecosystems being “SIPOC”.
Supplier; an organisation that provides an input to a process
Input; what inputs are needed, what triggers an action
Policies; what are the policies, rules or regulations in place
Outputs; what do your customers need
Customers; who are your customers?
SIPOC can analyse existing Suppliers and isolate what is needed to move to an digital ecosystem through breaking out components. Several former colleagues preferred an alternative approach to SIPOC as it was not customer-centric, they believed that this evolved rather than revolutionised the ‘Processes’. They reversed SIPOC to COPIS (like others had) and began the analysis with the customer. COPIS eliminated waste, redefined thinking to the customer rather than the existing value chain and in some instances redefined supplier relationships or removed suppliers completely (this would enable a digital ecosystem).
DMAIC and COPIS could contribute to an organisation implementing a Digital Business Model. There are broader benefits, at several organisations I have observed those who have said very little in many meetings, get out of their chair, correct and added valuable insights as people worked shoulder to shoulder using these models.
A practical approach to “talking with” rather than at people while shifting people’s digital contribution.