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Use process to make remote work more productive than office work
W. Edward Demings was the American engineer and statistician who went to Japan and delivered the intellectual basis for the Japanese miracle (the transformation of a war-torn country into a manufacturing powerhouse). He is considered the father of lean manufacturing, and by extension, lean/agile software engineering, and the lean startup.
Clayton Christensen was the Harvard Business School professor who gave us the theory of disruptive innovation, and later, the theory of jobs to be done (people don't buy a product or service, they hire it to help them overcome obstacles and make progress in a particular circumstance).
These two giants, along with many others, put one thing in particular at the center of organizational success: process.
iLiv puts process at the center of your work.
Process Is A Top Differentiator
In his wonderful book: “How Will You Measure Your Life”, Clayton Christensen succinctly defines the capabilities of an organization as three buckets:
Resources include people, equipment, technology, designs, brands, information, cash, and relationships.
Most people think that resources are what make a business successful.
Processes are the ways in which employees interact, coordinate, communicate, and make decisions.
Processes are the hardest to see and the hardest to measure of these 3 factors. Often, they are addressed last and initially inadequately.
Priorities define how a company makes decisions.
Employees must make, for themselves, decisions that are consistent with the strategic direction and the business model of the company.
Processes are where it all comes together, enabling organizations to reach their strategic priorities, and create value by transforming resources into products and services of greater worth.
iLiv delivers process excellence to your organization, keeping it ahead of the competition, and in tune with the lives of your clients and beneficiaries.
Process connects Mission and Strategy to Results
Process is the connective tissue of the well-functioning organization. Properly leveraged, process goes far beyond operational details locked inside discreet operational units, and process is not only a tool for mid-level managers.
Great leaders use process as one of their most essential tools.
Senior management's process is to expand the mission into strategies, then distill those strategies into priorities. The next tier of managers have the job of expressing those priorities as a repertoire of great processes.
Operational directors and their teams then convert the idealized processes into real-world performances, and leverage process repetition to continuously improve their skills and their understanding of real-world conditions.
Feedback loops replenish and optimize the repertoire of processes and strategies, ultimately garnering results that consistently achieve the mission.
How iLiv helps
- iLiv Services provide the context, methodology, and guidance to refine your strategies into priorities.
- iLiv Composer is the tool for combining your priorities with your organization's capabilities—to create, manage, and build up a deep repertoire of repeatable, idealized processes.
- iLiv Performer is the platform on which your people perform the processes, over and over, conforming them to real world circumstances, and optimizing as they go.
- iLiv Services steps up once again at the end of the chain, reporting on and helping you analyze all of the events your people have performed, over all of your processes and all time, for the purpose of continuous process improvement.
The iLiv system delivers all of these benefits at enormous scale.
Process turns Reactivity into Proactivity
With well composed processes, and well chosen and trained performers, process turns reactivity into proactivity, and chaos into creativity.
One of the outcomes of living in these times is the uncomfortable feeling that you are being constantly pushed around by information. Whether it comes from your friends via social media, or marketers, or relentless opinion makers via mass media, or the tyranny of email demanding responses, carving out some degree of control over your own mind and what you do with it seems very difficult indeed. And it is.
At work, the sense of being whipped about by reactivity also pertains. Customers and competitors are constantly shifting markets under your feet. World events and shifting tastes keep you scrambling. And many businesses (especially but not only service businesses) are reactive by their very nature.
Everyone likes to feel in control. And businesses like to be in control. But trying to be proactive, when all your time and energy is taken up being reactive, is a serious challenge.
Process will help.
If your business is naturally reactive, process gives you an opportunity to turn that to your advantage. Here's how it works:
- There will always be things that your business must do to respond to current circumstances. Many of them will recur across multiple responses.
- There is an ideal set of people who will handle these recurring responses, each according to their abilities.
- There is an ideal sequence of events that will coordinate the responses across all of these people.
- All of these tasks, roles, and timelines can be gathered and composed into ideal responses.
Notice the future tense in the bullets above. You are using what you have learned from the past to project action into the future. This is the very definition of being proactive. You have converted an essentially reactive business model into a proactive business advantage.
When we talk at iLiv about composing processes, this is what we are talking about. You are taking a talented group of individuals, and coordinating their activities around a shared objective, where each can focus and perform ideally, over a prescribed period of time, confident that the whole has been preconceived by someone who not only knows what they are doing, but makes it all interesting and rewarding.
When we talk at iLiv about performing processes, we are talking about multiple people, each in their individual roles, following the composition created for them, that they know will get everyone to the shared objective on time and in an ideal way, and that gives each of them all the freedom and creativity they need to be exceptional.
Performers like to perform. They don't like putting down their instruments in the middle of a performance to figure out who should be doing what; or having to hunt around for their parts; or having to figure out instructions that are unclear. They don't like distractions. The want to practice their craft in a focused, organized, supportive, and inspired context, that leads everyone inevitably towards success.
Process is the Secret Sauce of Creativity
There is a common misconception that process saps creativity. Of course, if you set out to use process to turn humans into machines, you can suck all the life out of any work. But why would you do that?
Process—and its partner discipline: repetition—are the secret sauces of creative geniuses.
Without process, there would be no Bach Goldberg Variations; and without repetition, there would be no pianists like Glenn Gould capable of performing them. You don't get to 10,000 hours doing something without getting very good at it; and you don't get to 10,000 hours without a lot of repetition.
If the processes in your organization are sucking the life out of work, they're just bad processes.
If you are avoiding using process to improve the creative opportunities of your people, because you think it will do the opposite, you're missing out on a golden opportunity.
Great process is characterized by 16 qualities
To each of these, bring a sense of measure: the certainty that you are being neither too extreme nor too relative in your application of each quality.
Process is both a series of steps and a single sweep of action. Each step does not have to be a perfectly calibrated expression of all 16 qualities, but on the whole, a great process expresses all of these qualities like a balanced, effortless melody and its harmonies.
Here they are.
Great process is...
- Measurable — Gathers well-chosen data points in the course of getting important things done.
- Scalable — Works as well once as 10,000 times.
- Flexible — Bends without breaking. Open to variation. Gives the performer room to live.
- Strategic — Expresses to each person how their efforts contribute to the mission as a whole. Personalizes strategy.
- Creative — Provides just enough detail to distinguish between alternatives. Leaves ample space for the imagination.
- Transparent — Allows people to see everything, unless it absolutely, positively, has to be concealed.
- Focused — Puts first things first: "What do I have to do next?"
- Anarchic — Peels away hierarchy. Induces self-responsibility.
- Efficient — No wasted effort. No extra steps. Keep trimming and eliminating, forever.
- Productive — Productivity is not a measure. It's a feeling of flow, of time well spent. A reason to enjoy and carry on.
- Integrative — The more we do this, the more it comes together, and the more it makes sense.
- Simple — As simple as possible, but not simpler.
- Repetitive — Repetition is the secret pleasure of great minds. Practice makes perfect.
- Optimizable — Small adjustments here and there: so much better.
- Relational — Who is doing what? Where do I fit in? Who is being affected? How are we doing?
- Utilitarian — More like a guide than a novel. More like a light switch than a smartphone. Just in time, cool, clean, and sharp.