Implementing Like The Big Companies…For A Fraction Of The Cost
Over twenty five years at Time Inc. and American Express I spent more than my fair share of time with big consultants like McKinsey and Anderson Consulting. Big companies spend millions of dollars on big consultants implementing process improvements and new ideas. Most companies, and virtually all small companies don’t have that luxury but there is a way to extract the fundamental processes, apply them to your company needs and implement successfully. Not only are there modified applications to the analysis but taking some fundamental steps, and not skipping key ones, can offer success opportunity far greater than the shoot from the hip or hit and miss approaches that many lacking big consulting resources feel trapped in.
After my umpteenth big project engagement we figured out their essence: Send in a smart dressed, smooth talking, high priced partner to sell top management improvements in process, revenue or cost. He then comes back and introduce the “plan” to the stakeholder managers and brings with him a top project guy and lieutenants (who will actually do the work). When the project starts another group of eager young MBA’s who were underpaid and overworked (hoping to someday get to the next level) charts and documents ad nauseam transcriptions by the client’s staff what was being done, what the problems were, and ways to fix it. Then, after weeks or months, put it all in a fancy report with the partner finally re-appearing to present back what the rank and file mostly knew but the client executives now felt justified to believe and act on.
The big guys can afford the kind of minutia process documenting, modeling, flowcharting and resolutions to the dreaded Iterative Nested Loops. They also do add credibility to the improvement suggestions because unlike what many staff or managers suggest there was backup documentation, ie proof, of what was actually happening, how long it was taking, what it cost and then the re-imagined process change was likewise documented and measured in every new step in comparison to the old.
What small businesses, or big companies lacking resources can do is extrapolate some core principles to make the same mind of measured effort but without the excesses and overly thorough documentation that can be overkill when stakeholders do direct analysis, have some guidelines, use their gut and validate everything with measurement.
To accomplish this my small consulting company developed Rapid Process Analysis™ to do the core analysis without all the overhead. Applying this process requires a few key points:
- Change requires a strategy, that strategy then requires tactics all to be documented if you expect them to be done
- Flowchart at a high level current processes first (if you don’t know how learn, there are great tools on line or can be hired at a manageable cost) http://creately.com/blog/diagrams/flowchart-guide-flowchart-tutorial/
- Don’t assume the solution or ideal new process before you document where things are, indexing the high level so you have simple references should you need to go deeper in detail in process steps, decisions, outputs or data interactions and keep it all organized
- Measure the time and cost of the current process (or proposed if new)
- Validate all your documentations and assumptions with stakeholders
- Draw your improvement/new process juxtaposed to the current and demonstrate where the costs, timing or other improvements are coming from (Delta Analysis)
- Measure everything, then measure some more
- Use your documentation as the key reference both to explain the implementation and to analyze actual results v. projected, there will be bumps so be ready to react
Even doing the best job of analyzing, costing, planning and implementing is only a start. Rarely is an implementation a set-it-and-forget-it one so it’s only going to be as useful as it is sticky. The equally important consideration therefore is summarized in what we train as Sticky Process Change™ to give you the best shot for continuing success with your implementation. This system is well summarized in the three “C’s” we train as fundamental to sticky success:
- Clarity: cloudy thinging or acting is a sure way to undermine success so be sure every implementation has SMART goals, clear objectives, honest assessments, and motivations and reinforcements that align with the objectives and goals.
- Confidence: If you’ve been diligent in your analysis and documentation (no you can’t keep it in your head) you will have every reason to express confidence. You’ll need to beware the head-nodders who agree in public and undermine in private. Acknowledge the unknowns and Law of Unintended Consequences but suggest your preparation has you ready to adjust and honestly assess what’s working or not.
- Commitment: might seem obvious but I’m regularly witness to business leaders who undermine themselves with a lack devotion to the implementation. To avoid that create a Behavior Plan to document what needs to be done when. People instinctively distrust change so emphasize the objectives and why they matter…and if you ain’t got it, don’t do it.
In summary, you don’t need big bucks and big consulting resources to make big, meaningful changes in your organization. With a little training you can learn the shortcuts without shortchanging analysis and specialized small consulting can bring you the same proportion of big results with great ROI. Change is going to happen, will you plan it, manage it and profit from it, or will change manage you?
Rapid Process Analysis™ and Sticky Process Change™ are trademarks of MyEureka Solutions LLC.
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