“Be ready to handle twice as much throughput and activity in the next 3 years with roughly the same number of people.” That was the mandate from the CEO of a fast-growing biotech company to his Executive Team.

What would you do first?  Reorganization?  Prioritize?  Panic?

Often times, executives desperate for radical change turn to “process redesign” as a solution to their problems. However, data collected across a wide swath of industries and enterprises tell us that nearly two-thirds of all such change initiatives fail to produce the desired results, or equally damaging, create new problems that didn’t exist before the change.

What to avoid in the process

While there is no “magic bullet” to making process redesign successful, there are some landmines that if you don’t watch out for them, will derail your effort faster than you can say “clean sheet of paper.”

Let’s call them the 5 “no-no’s” of process redesign:

  1. Scope-creep:  The failure to clearly charter the process redesign initiative at the outset, including aligning leadership on outcomes. The more clearly the process redesign team knows the boundaries of the playing field, the more they can focus their efforts on what it will take to win the game.
  2. Dictating the process to the users:  Too often, those who will ultimately be the implementers or users of the process are invited to the table too far downstream, if at all. Getting them involved early—making them part of the team, listening to their concerns and commitments—will go a long way when it comes time to implement and execute the new process.
  3. Forgetting that one process impacts many others:  Departments or functions that take on a process redesign effort need to be cognizant of the fact that changes made in their area likely will have ripple effects across the whole organization. The earlier you have these conversations, the less chance of breakdowns later.
  4. Losing sight of the big picture:  No one is interested in change for change’s sake. Every process redesign needs to be framed inside of a larger strategic purpose. If people lose sight of what the redesign will make possible, then all the implementation work devolves into “lots of stuff to do.”
  5. Focusing on process, not outcomes:  Only those actions that will contribute to the ultimate desired outcomes should be included. All other non-value added activities must be discarded. Teams must be empowered to bring a critical eye to both the “as is” as well as redesigned processes. There can be no sacred cows.

Be aware of and work vigilantly to avoid these landmines. You too can quickly and effectively rethink and reinvent your business processes to support the reinvention of your business. Have you encountered some of these landmines in your organization? Are there others that have hampered your efforts?


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