3 Things to Check If Your Process’ Products/Outputs Aren’t Meeting the Downstream Need

The Short Answer: 

1- The Process Itself

2- The Environmental Assets

3- The Human Asset Managements

Click on the graphic above to enlarge – and/or copy.

The understanding of the ideal and actual for these three is crucial, as it is one, two, or all three of these variables which may be in need of an improvement effort to leverage overall performance. Those improvement levers are determined after the analysis has been completed and ROI has been calculated for various improvement scenarios.

It may be that the process and human assets are fine, but that ¾ of the performers lack one of the proper environmental asset. Think of ¾ of the lumber jacks and jills with dull saw blades due to a budget constraint.

Let’s go deeper…

1- The Process Itself – Overview

The Process is merely a “paper design” initially – until brought to life with the Human and Environmental assets.

Either The Process – as designed (in the “As Is” state) is capable of meeting the needs of its downstream customers, their downstream customers – but also all of the Other Stakeholders – Stakeholders include but are beyond the Customers’ chain.

If The Process isn’t designed already to meet those needs – balanced if in conflict – then you start there. If The Process doesn’t exist yet – and is in someone’s mind’s eye – you still start there.

You use things like ToC (Theory of Constraints), Lean and Six Sigma (including many other tools/methods such as DoE – Design of Experiments)   approaches to make sure that it – The Process – is or will be capable of meeting those needs.

To determine those needs BEFORE you design The Process – you might use marketing tools and QFD (Quality Function Deployment) for the Customers, interactions with representatives of other stakeholders (Regulatory, Compliance, Legal, etc., etc.) to determine “those other pesky NEEDS” – to make sure that The Process’ design is capable before you start making it real.

Process design/redesign is targeted at improving error reduction, cycle time reduction, and cost reduction. Better, faster and cheaper. Tools and techniques used in process design/redesign include: process mapping, value stream mapping, statistical process control, process simplification, process automation, activity based costing, and so on.

Not all of the enterprise’s systems/processes have to always be in tight, statistical process control to produce the required outputs/deliverables necessary to achieve peak performance. But some do.

Control won’t make up for a bad business plan or reconcile with other conflicting goals within the enterprise. But it is still a critical component to pulling off the business plan. The stakes are high for the high-impact processes. Failure of core business processes is usually not a viable option, for it can result in the overall death of the enterprise.

The Performance Model provides an illustration of both ideal process performance and actual process performance via its gap analysis, and can provide the basis for the targeting of improvement resources for various improvement interventions, including design/redesign of the process itself.

Either the process is designed to meet its current or future metrics, or it needs to be redesigned to do so. This is always the starting point…the process itself.

After that one would look to the other assets that enable – and if they are deficient – then one would look further upstream to see their Processes and Systems that provide what their downstream Processes requires.

2- The Environmental Asset Management (Provisioning) Systems – Overview

The Environmental Asset Management Systems that “provision” the right stuff – non-people-wise – to the Processes provide the Processes with all of the non-people things in the right balance between what the Human Assets (Performers) provide to meet the needs of the Processes.

Environmental Asset Requirements Enabler Analysis is where the requirements for all non-human assets are determined, again, via a systematic review of the documented mastery performance. Environmental assets categories are:

  • Data/Information
  • Material/Supply
  • Tools/Equipment
  • Facilities/Grounds
  • Headcount/Budget
  • Culture/Consequences

Whatever these Enterprise Systems provide to The Process must be in balance and harmony with those other assets…

3- The Human Asset Management (Provisioning) Systems – Overview

The Human Asset Management Systems that “provision” the right stuff – people-wise – to the Processes provide the Processes with people who have the right balance between what the Environmental Assets (Supports) provide to meet the needs of the Processes.

A Human Asset Requirements Enabler Analysis – is where the requirements for the human assets are determined via a systematic review of the documented mastery performance of THE PROCESS’ outputs and tasks. The Human Assets categories are:

  • Awareness, Knowledge, Skill
  • Physical attributes
  • Intellectual attributes
  • Psychological attributes
  • Personal Values

Whatever these Enterprise Systems provide to The Process must be in balance and harmony with those other asset-type provisioning systems – the EAMS.

Click on the graphic below to enlarge – and/or copy.

Like Russian Dolls

The EAMS and HAMS have many Processes – and they too have Provisioning Systems – luckily –  they are usually the same as those “feeding” the original or other Processes – so if an EAMS or a HAMS is not meeting the needs of The Process – it needs to have its Processes analyzed – just as you did for the original “The Process” – and see if its Process is an issue – not designed to really meet all of the Stakeholder Requirements in the first place – before going to solve the issue with a fix to one or more of the EAMS or HAMS.

For example – don’t fix your Process issues with Training/Learning – unless the Awareness, Knowledge and Skills of the Performers in the Process  are THE PERFORMANCE LEVERAGE FULCRUM – “THIS TIME.”

Deming claimed that it’s not The Worker in 94% of the cases – which may be part of The Reason that most workers learn their jobs primarily on-the-job mostly informally (watch another, trial and error, etc.). Because THAT’s NOT THE ROOT CAUSE of problems/opportunities.

So it’s very OK for that to be like that. Something few in the L&D field seem to appreciate.

Rummler said 15-20% of the time it was The Performer.

Rummler also said:

Put a Good Performer in a Bad System and the System wins every time. 

Mostly it’s The Big-Bad System.

According to them.

What’s That – The System? 

If it’s not the People, the Performers, the Learners – then where do you turn – to look for Root Causes?

What is this System thing anyway?

Again, I would look to:

1- The Process Itself

2- The Environmental Assets

3- The Human Assets (even though this is not where to start for problem solving – it is the place to start sometimes for new hire needs).

And then – look to the EAMS and HAMS upstream.

Want More?

For more about THIS MODEL/APPROACH to Performance Improvement (by any number of “names”) – see my recent book – whether you are from the Training/Learning world or not:

For info on this book and an ordering link – please go here.

For consulting support/help on this – please connect with me via email or phone.

If you’d like to offer me a job to help you with implementing something akin to this in your Enterprise – I’d be happy to consider your offer.

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