Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Patterns of work and their do's and don'ts

Based on an earlier blog-entry, I defined 4 typical patterns of work. In this article, I repeat these patterns of work, as I want to use them to position (in a next article) when discussing various coordination patterns in processes.

These patterns of work are derived from my observations on how people tend to organize the execution processes that have different characteristics.

Direct Execution
Aspect Work pattern
Number of employees
involved in specific execution
One single employee
Process No process (in terms of coordinating activities among multiple employees,
but a single direct set of tasks, performed in coordination with the customer by one employee at one time one place (otopop)
ActivitiesOne standardized activity (which will be composed of various standardized tasks, done by one person directly)
Responsibility Clear (based on the job title and responsibilities of this one person, or persons with the same role)
Typical situations Call center - answering a question
Buying item in a store
Do's and don'ts Do: Provide all data and usable systems the employee needs, and make sure these systems are fast enough. Make sure they have a 360 view on the customer.
Don't: Put them in situations where they can not meet customer expectations

This work pattern is typically used in service delivery where:
- The service is simple (but might be knowledge intensive)
- The service can be done by one person
- Interaction with the customer can be low to high

Procedural Delivery

AspectWork pattern
Number of employees
involved in specific execution
More than 1.  People each perform certain activities (as part of their role). A limited number of roles.
ProcessA clear, predefined, process (based on a clear procedure, that defines trigger, activities, roles, decision points with their business rules, and all possible paths). 
ActivitiesMultiple standardized activities.
ResponsibilityClear, using roles. 
Typical situationsProcessing of incoming invoices, expense claims
Simple insurance claims
Opening a bank account, closing a commodity based insurance contract
Standardized service delivery (McDonalds, simple Public services)
Simple IT-incidents and changes
Do's and don'ts Do: Create workflow driven solutions, that provide the right contextual information when an employee performs an activity. Use business rules technology to support routing and decision making. Create process visibility
Don't: Force people to go and try to find the status of a certain customer request or force them to manually collect and report performance data

This work pattern is typically used in service delivery where:
- The service requires people with different skills
- The service can be laid out as a series of predictable steps
- The service is standardized
- Interaction with the customer is low to moderate

Dynamic Adaptive Delivery

AspectWork pattern
Number of employees
involved in specific execution
More than 1. Various people with various roles may be involved dynamically. 
ProcessAn emergent process, as the path at run-time is not clear. Based on inputs, data, new insights and events, new activities might be required, assigned to currently involved employees or other employees, leading to new information, leading to new activities, etc.
ActivitiesMultiple standardized activities, and possibly some ad-hoc activities.
ResponsibilityUsually clear, using roles. However, sometimes people need to handle ad-hoc activities that may not be part of their role & typical responsibilities.
Typical situationsMedical diagnosis and treatment
Invoice disputes
Complex claims processing
Coordinating more complex IT-problems
Legal trial
Handling complex life events of customers (death of partner of customer)
Case management of unemployed citizens 
Do's and don'ts Do: provide an information rich, case based environment, in which case managers can easily plan activities, supported by patterns and next best action suggestions driven by events, data and rules. Think navigator. Provide easy access to the case status, history and information for all participants.
Don't: lock people in with rigid workflows, as they will be forced to 'tweak' the system or place valuable information and work-activities outside of the system

This work pattern is typically used in service delivery where:
- The service requires people with different skills
- The service can not be laid out as a set of predictable steps, but emerges
- The expected value of the service is (fairly) standardized
- Interaction with the customer is typically high
- During the service process, expected and unexpected events and insights might require unanticipated activities (and support of certain people/roles)

Collaborative Coordination

AspectWork pattern
Number of employees
involved in specific execution
ProcessA very dynamic and emergent process, that might (or not) converge to a certain desired outcome, that might not be fully know yet
ActivitiesMany ad-hoc activities, very limited are standardized
ResponsibilityUsually unclear, but in some cases supported by roles. People may shift in or out the process, as a result of new insights. A clear owner of a specific execution might lack (when multiple organizations need to collaborate) or might shift due to evolving circumstances.
Typical situations- Crisis management
- Creating a strategic plan
- Complex negotiations
- Severe and urgent IT-problem
Do's and don'ts Do: create clear objectives (and let these evolve over time, and communicate them often), define clear roles and mandates, and let people self-organize where possible. Make sure all information (including decisions) is available in real-time for everyone.
Don't: overstructure the process

This work pattern is typically used in service delivery where:
- The service requires many people with different skills but also different mandates (for instance partner-organizations)
- A lot of collaboration is needed to converge to a certain result
- The service or expected outcome is not standardized and not clear at the beginning
- Many new insights, events or partner policy / strategy changes can be expected

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The 4+2 model for understanding and changing processes

When you work in the area of process-analysis and improvement, the beginning of process analysis can be complex. There is a lot of aspects one wants to understand. And there is a risk either to miss important aspects, or to be overwhelmed and get lost. The same applies when you improve and implement a process.
Based on these insights some years ago I created the 4+2 model for processes. This model makes it clear that in and around a processes, various areas of activity are present (or need to be implemented).
In addition, it makes clear in what typical areas, some often overlooked, large potential for improvement exists.

The 4+2 model in a diagram:

Let's go through the areas...

Essential part of the process
This is the area that most analysts, especially beginners, start to analyse and understand. These are the core activities required to deliver specific value (in terms of delivering a product or service). The key question here: what is needed to deliver a product or service? It's about value added work.

For example, let's take the process of requesting a grant, the essential area would be about:
- Receive request
- Review request
- Decide on request
- Inform the requester
- (if positive decision) Pay the grant

This area is of course essential. But to often this is the area that gets the most attention, and sometimes is even the only area that is addressed. This severely limits your power as analyst/designer.

Logistical part of the process
What is often forgotten is the logistical part of a process. The key question in this area is: what is needed to get the right person to perform the right task, with the right inputs and materials, at the right time. It's about flow, how do we let a request flow efficiently through the organization?  Sadly, often this area (and the complex activities that need to take place) is buried in process models in the arrows.

For example, let's continue to grant process:
- Receive the request by mail, sort them by customer, and distribute them (once a day) to the right team
- Distribute the requests in the team
- Work on the stack of requests in FIFO order, except when Prio 1 requests have been signaled
- Collect all decisions per week (in a folder) and bring this to the financial department.
- Bring the payment tape (weekly produced) to the bank. It takes 3 days for processing.

This area has often the potential for large improvements (my estimate: 30 - 50%, in terms of time and costs). I encountered one time a situation in which a analyst team had been given the assignment to shorten delivery time of a insurance transaction. Weeks had been spent on trying to cut time, but only looking at the essential part of the process. The progress: several minutes of activities could be saved. But when we started to address the logistical part, we discovered that certain arrows between the activities took 3 - 5 days. What was the matter? They needed to fetch the paper client-folder from another location, and the truck that drove between the locations had a limited schedule, resulting a long wait.
This is the area that deals with queuing, first in first out, and waiting for resources for inputs or inputs waiting for resources.

Customer journey
When understanding a process or improving it, it is important to understand what is required (or what actually happens) of the customer to keep the process going. In many process analysis I still see the swim lane/pool of the customer missing. Optimal alignment of the customer activities/process and the essential + logistical process is required to create a customer friendly delivery.
Note: the customer journey often goes through various processes, as the journey travels through phases such as 'orientation', 'selection of supplier', 'transaction', 'aftercare'.

Supplier process(es)
For certain parts of the process, inputs might be required from suppliers/value chain partners. Again, also in this area it is important to understand the activities and inputs that are required from suppliers, and how these align with the essential and logistical areas of the process.

Operational and tactical management of the process
Where the essential and logistical areas are about 'do', this area is about plan, check and act. This area deals with the management within the boundaries of the process. The key question is:  are we doing the process right?
This question is on two levels:
- Operational: how to make sure a specific delivery (such as one specific grant-request) is delivered on the right time, place, quality and cost (as defined in the required process).
- Tactical: how to make sure that the flow (the set of current work in progress) is within acceptable ranges.
Sometimes, analysts take this area into account, but limit themselves to only define key performance indicators, norms and create solutions for dashboards, so that involved people are sufficiently informed on the operational and tactical status. However, this is not enough. One needs to also consider the steering-instruments (what can you do if all the signals are in the red zones?): what interventions can we do to (for instance):
- Operational: make sure that a delayed request is prioritized?
- Tactical: decrease the average waiting time, due to seasonal influences, by adding resources?
Often, there is quite some waste involved in this area of the process. We often see many resources that need to collect, administer/maintain, and report performance data manually. And we see confusion and additional work, when different reports from different automatic and manual systems differ...

Strategic management of the process
The last area we focus on the key question 'are we doing the right process?'.
This is what I would call process management. It's about analysis and interventions in aspects such as:
- Is the process aligned with evolving customer expectations?
- Is the process aligned with strategy?
- Is the process aligned with IT? Can it be innovated?
- Is the process aligned with HR policies?
- Is the process sufficiently harmonized with other, comparable processes?
- Is the performance of the process acceptable? Can it be improved? Should we apply Lean?
- What is the experience of the customer (during interactions)? Can it be improved?
- What is the experience of the employees? Does this process create a motivating and engaging environment?
and Maturity
- Does the process have the right level of maturity?
(For instance: is there a clear process owner, is it documented, are activities and roles sufficiently established and implemented, are KPI's defined and measured, is there a clear incident/problem & change procedure for the process? etc).
In this area improvement is also possible. Often this part is not implemented (often as a result from, but also amplifying functional silos). And this leads to various inefficiencies, loss of customers, and loss of employee engagement (for instance: if certain process issues have been reported, but never resolved)

The 4+2 model is one of my key tools to explain, understand and improve processes. I hope you like it too!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Images of Process

We live in dynamic times. New images of organization appear. New business models. New organization operating models and cultures. New roles. And a growing shift to knowledge workers, dynamic processes and increased autonomy of employees.
What is surprising that in the midst of this all, the images of 'Process' are staying quite fixed. I think this deteriorates the power of process driven interventions. It limits us, through the limited lenses that these images provide, in seeing broader pictures. As more and more organization questions are turning 'wicked', solutions can not be developed in isolation. Other process images are needed, that should help us recognize and integrate key elements of the broader context processes are part of. In the years I have been involved in process innovation and improvement, I have been pondering on this one question - what's a process. What other viewpoints can we find, other images that help us enhance our perspective?
I want to discuss 6 images of process I found, using 6 different definitions. Each of these definitions help us see various of these key elements.

Definition 1: A process is a chain of activities, executed by various actors, to transform input to output, to provide a service or product to a customer. 
This definition, and tons of comparable ones form our most common image of process. It creates an automatic focus on activities: what happens when why how where and by who. In it's essence, it's fine - it has helped many organizations to increase efficiency and improve quality. It's one of the foundations of the industrial revolution. But it is also limiting us. Let's explore other additional definitions.
Key elements: activities, efficiency, quality

Definition 2: A process is the stuff we do to delight the customer, by providing the right value and experience
I like this definition, because it helps us to focus on one of the process stakeholders that is critical for the success of people's work within an organization: the customer (internal or external).
This helps us to think outside-in in two ways:
- From a value perspective : what is the need of the customer? How do we provide the right value?).
This is one of the key elements in for instance Lean, to help us focus on understanding the voice of the customer, provide the right value and get rid of waste.
- From an experience perspective : how does the customer want to be treated? What types of interactions during the customer journey (the moments of truth) create a positive experience?
Note that using the phrase 'The customer' has a risk leading to generalization of our customer view. Remembering that customers are all different people is an important step - and segmentation and use of persona's can help us to keep this in mind. Even better - co-creation of process designs is even a better step.
Key elements: customer, outside-in, customer journey, interactions, value, experience

Definition 3: A process is the behavior of a specific group of people and machines, in response to a certain trigger
This definition reminds us, that in the end, it's about behavior of specific people. We can create great to-be process models, but in the end successful process-transformation is about changing behavior of people. It helps us to discover the value of change management, of personal transformation, learning processes.
It requires us to understand people. And it prevents us from the illusion that you can design a process and roles and then simply 'shove' people in the boxes, arrows and swim lanes.
Key elements: people, behavior, learning, psychology of change

Definition 4: A process is a specific game in which various people, with various interests and stakes, attempt to reach certain objectives (which may be be derived from personal, departmental, company or other goals)
Every process analyst and designer know that improving processes can be tricky business. Various stakeholders around a process have different interests. Perfect alignment is difficult to achieve, but one needs to be aware of these interests and stakes, to be able to come to consensus.  Both process design and execution are stakeholder games.
I also like the word 'Game'. Webster defines it as 'a physical or mental activity or contest that has rules and that people do for pleasure'. It opens the perspective of gamification, where we can introduce game-like constructs in processes to make them (more) fun.
Key elements: stakeholders, stakes/interests, alignment, consensus or compromises, games, gamification

Definition 5: A process is a social and mental structure in which people can position their activities and collaborations, and in which people might find motivation, safety and meaning through their experiences. 
This definition I am still working on - to sharpen and to digest. It's about an intuitive feeling that processes can help us to create meaning and motivation. To help us find and understand our place in society, organization and various contexts. For me, this is about employee experience en engagement. I see processes that do not create safety (people unsure, insecure and under pressure), do not create motivation (struggling people, with repeated boring tasks and repeated problems) nor (positive) meaning. This definition resonates little with current BPM-thinking, which is, in my view, a shame.
Key elements: people, meaning, motivation, (social/psychological) safety

Definition 6: A process is a living work of art, in which people are in flow and their work and interactions form a choreography with aesthetic value
Have you have been part of a team-effort, in which you felt a deep appreciation of the beauty of good collaboration? Where activities almost had a musical rhythm? The feeling of 'check check check'. The feeling of 'yes yes yes'. Perhaps you have seen it in sports, where certain games transcended winning or loosing, to pure fun and flow. Or when you where dancing with someone (salsa, tango), and the moves of you and your partner blended in beautifully.
Maybe, deeply, this is what we all are looking for - creating the conditions for people to thrive, to be able to work in deep flow, and create beautiful performances of experience for all stakeholders that are involved.
Key elements: flow, beauty, thriving

These are the images I have at this stage in my development. I have felt that all of them have enriched my work as process consultant. Seeing broader perspectives and bigger contexts. Adding more value.

What images of process do you have? How have they helped you to see new perspectives?

Friday, November 08, 2013

The role of Design Thinking for creating optimal experiences through your channels and processes

I posted an entry on the Capgemini CTO blog about the importance of Design Thinking

Do read the other entries on TechnoVision 2014, interesting concepts and insights!

My article:

Design For Digital #7 – Think Design

Customers and employees interact, transact and work with organizations through a growing myriad of channels. Their experience during these interactions make them loyal to an organization or leave them forever: it’s a key differentiating element. And indeed, for consistent positive experiences to happen, they need focused attention from you. To create the right stage for customer and employee experiences, turn to Design Thinking. Make sure that you apply Design Thinking in your digital transformation efforts, including the design of your services and processes. Build the right consciousness, desire and capability to design and deliver compelling experiences, from an radical outside-in perspective. Delight!

Let’s start with a definition: ‘Compassion: sympathetic consciousness of others' needs and experiences, together with a desire to fulfill the needs while creating a positive experience’ (Webster dictionary, with some twists). How is compassion doing in organizations? Quite some research, including from Capgemini / MIT shows that customer experiences are far from optimal. In addition, various research shows that many employees are disengaged. That these two findings relate is only logical.

Yet, most organizations truly have the desire to fulfill the needs of their customers and employees. The key issues they encounter:

- Most services and processes develop stepwise, without looking at the whole and without being sufficiently consciousness of the needs and experiences of customers and employees.

- It’s not easy to design and create integrated and consistent customer experiences over various functional units and channels.

If you want to differentiate, turn to Design Thinking as a key, foundational element in your digital transformation.

A number of essentials elements that make up Design Thinking:

- Purposeful – Customers and employees have needs and want to fulfill them. In their own way. The steps they will take for this are often referred to as the ‘Customer Journey’ (but don’t forget the Employee Journey..). During this journey, they will typically interact with many of your channels, functional silos and IT solutions. And they will go through various emotions. You will need to understand their end-to-end journeys, their emotions and you will need to understand how to respond to them, with an integrated design.

- Human centric – Forget ‘customer’, ‘user’, ‘employee’. We are all humans, not pegs that want to fit an organization’s services or internal process. Everybody has various needs and emotions, different beliefs and values. If you want your customers and employees to have great experiences, you will need to understand them (personas), and even better: collaborate and co-design with them.

- Iterative – Customers and employees can’t tell you precisely what they want. As understanding humans and designing optimal experiences can be complex, you will need an iterative approach, in which you mix research, creativity, intuition and experimentation. Take a fresh, outside-in perspective on existing websites, mobile applications and other digital channels, and the other moments of truth. Apply a mix of craft, art and science, to come to the right enough answers (designs) and new insights to improve them.

Building a design thinking capability requires new skills (human research, creative design, concept testing, co-creative dialogues), new roles (UX designer, service designer) and new innovative approaches. Invest in Design Thinking and use it to reshape your services, channels and your Business Technology Landscape. Your first step: start with piloting Design Workshops for defining and designing new products, services and enabling IT capabilities.

Trust us, it will give you a new experience. And don't forget: it's all about compassion.