Process is the way a task is performed. All organisations big or small in any business sector want their operation to run smoothly and be free of operational glitches, errors and problems. Therefore process improvement and change involves finding the best and most efficient way to perform a task. Refining processes is a major concern in many organisations because it is the only route to greater efficiency and the only way to minimise problems. Let’s not forget that many organisations are still coming to grips with technology developments and process change is often driven by the need to adapt to advances in technology.
Meeting customer needs and exceeding customer expectations are buzz words in most organisations today. Organisations that foster a culture that says the ‘customer is king’ have to take the steps to ensure that customers don’t feel short-changed in any way. This culture requires fine-tuning all internal processes that comprise the ‘value chain’.
In such a scenario, a team is often created to play a high level role in translating these organisation-wide buzz words into reality at the operational level, even if it entails major process change. If an organisation wants to be operationally efficient and wants a high performance team in place to help achieve this goal, there are two levels that contribute towards this effort:
Process Change: Two Levels That Shape High Performance Teams
Superior Team Qualities:
The organisation input begins with defining the team mission as clearly and precisely as possible. The organisation also has to empower the team to go ahead and bring in the changes that they consider necessary to improve processes. In other words, the organisation has to give the team an assurance that their recommendations will be implemented. This creates the impetus and momentum to move forward and take action in a manner that drives a better performance across the organisation. In casting the team for such a special purpose, the organisation has to look for not just the right skills but also the best available talent and expertise. The focus should be on finding professionals who can understand the problem areas and use techniques and experience to identify the right changes.
Team qualities comprise the second level that can shape high performance. It refers to the work ethic and innate performance capabilities among the individuals who constitute the team. These qualities pave the way for a superior team performance and can go a long way in supporting the overall organisation goals. Let’s see how this is achieved:
People with a strong drive and assertive qualities are able to take the appropriate initiatives in collectively designing methods, processes and programs that can dramatically improve performance within the organisation. Such individuals strive for excellence and this quality has the potential to percolate down to various levels and sub-teams that operate within the organisation. In other words, the search for excellence can be ‘infectious’ in a positive way and can drive process change by transforming the manner in which employees in the organisation think and operate.
Customer focus is another factor that brings with it the need for excellence. The customer is the focal point in all factors that define the operations within the organisation. It is the patronage of customers that takes a business forward and provides growth opportunity. Therefore, the team has to understand the power of the customer. In a business process reengineering task, teams that have this focus firmly ingrained in their psyche have a better chance of becoming high performing teams.
An investigative nature and problem solving capacity is an essential component in the thought patterns of teams assigned to reengineering and process change assignments, especially if they have to find ways to vastly improve existing processes. In order to significantly improve any process, the team has to thoroughly understand the existing system and be able to pick out problem areas that need closer attention. The team has to thoroughly examine all current systems. No intermediate process or work flow element is too small to warrant their attention. They have to develop an eye for detail and they have to identify areas that are crying out for change. It is only through an understanding of the existing process that the team can collectively evolve improvements and solutions. However, teams can bring about meaningful change only when their problem solving capacity leads to superior out-of-the-box solutions as well.
In the final analysis, with the appropriate organisation inputs and adequate empowerment, a team can become a high performance team so long as they adopt the right mind-set. The right mind-set requires tremendous personal drive and initiative, a well developed customer orientation and the ability to solve problems creatively. To use this mind-set successfully, the team has to feel total commitment and dedication towards the mission. This dedication brings in the right discipline and work ethic necessary for accelerating major process change.
The Wisdom of Team – Creating the high performance organisation by Katzenbach and Smith
Business Process Change: A Manager’s Guide to Improving, Redesigning, and Automating Processes by Paul Harmon