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Analysis / Business

Making Work Easier, Faster And More Valuable

At my company we adopted a mission statement earlier this year: “We want to make work easier, faster and more valuable for millions of people.”

I realised this morning that the bit I’m most proud about is ‘more valuable‘.

I was commenting on Brad Power’s latest post on his Harvard Business Review blog. Brad is pursuing some promising lines of inquiry. He came up with the idea of Process Attention Deficit Disorder and has moved on since to look at the wider blockers on executive attention to process improvement. Drawing on his work with the Lean Enterprise Institute, he is asking the right questions.

Brad’s latest post asks whether process improvement is always relevant, and labels those who think so ‘religious’ and ‘proselytizing’ and ‘a danger to their companies’. [which alone was enough to get me going – but some of the comments were also rather sad. You can read the whole thing here].

‘Easier and faster’ is where the focus has traditionally been. It’s time-and-motion and automation, and links direct to the bottom line. It will always be important.

‘More valuable’ is where it gets interesting. I don’t have any hard evidence for this but I know intuitively that being involved is energizing. A huge benefit of a culture of continuous process improvement is that it is inclusive and taps into the insights of the entire enterprise.

Instead of being treated like just another factor of production, a cost to be squeezed, I am treated with dignity and my contribution to delivering improved performance is welcomed. Truly valuing people in this way brings a whole new dynamic and energy into play.

This is no yellow brick road. Of course, there are continual challenges. Businesses go down as well as up. But, whatever the circumstances, any organization will surely do better where people are involved and connected, so that their work becomes more meaningful.

It highlights that in many ways BPM is a cultural issue, not a technical automation one. It’s about a platform that enables engagement. It’s about everyone playing a part in continual improvement. It’s the platform upon a culture of which sustainable operational excellence is built.

Enterprises that can tap into the creativity of their entire workforce – that ‘make work more valuable’ – will surely prosper. Where else would you want to work?

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Mike Gammage is VP and Principal Consultant at Nimbus Partners. Mike has worked in performance improvement consulting, and more recently the BPM space, for more than two decades. He is particularly interested in the overlap between two very dynamic worlds: BPM and perfomance improvement (the drive across all industries to standardise, improve and automate) and sourcing and the virtualisation of the enterprise (the drive to create more flexible and lower-cost service solutions through outsourcing, offshoring and shared services). In either case, Mike believes the enterprise needs a single source of truth about its end-to-end business processes, as well as a framework for the design and implementation of change. It also needs to connect the end-user and all other stakeholders to ensure the adoption of change. These are the keys to sustainable transformation and continuous improvement.