The creator of the Toyota Production System (TPS), Taiichi Ohno, said: “Without stability there can be no improvement.” Most companies will admit that process standardisation is important yet it always gets pushed lower on their prioritised objectives. I will not deny that sometimes the reasons for this are relevant, such as time, resources and other constraints. However, those who have experienced even a small standardisation exercise all seem to have the same response which is: “Why haven’t we been doing this?” or, “Why didn’t we do this years ago?” Is it possible that people don’t really understand the true benefits of process standardisation for their business?
The real value of standardising business processes does not lie only in the finished product of a documented process to be used for record keeping. The value lies rather in the accompanying culture transformation that looms when people begin to ask the right questions. It is when we start to ask the right questions, that we start to realise how much of what we do is actually unnecessary, wasteful and can be eliminated. It is when we start to ask the right questions that diving into a process illuminates all the shortfalls and non-value added activities that we have become so used to that over years we can actually become blind to it. It is when you start to unpack even the simplest of processes, improvement opportunities burst from the seams in ways that can be surprising, frightening but also exciting and problems both known and unknown can be solved. A process mapping workshop for example is so much more than a mundane exercise you are being forced to attend. It sparks ideas, reveals waste, builds teams, gains buy-in to a cause and opens up a limitless well of opportunity leaving a strong sense of accomplishment in all participants involved.
As process standardisation, asking the right questions and problem solving become a way of life deeply embedded in company culture, you begin to step into a world where true opportunity for improvement exists and is ripe for picking. It is when you truly catch a glimpse of this, and find that it is not intimidating but rather quite attainable that an excitement for continuous improvement is born and process standardisation will begin to shift higher up on the priority list regardless of any prevailing circumstance.
About Grant Davis:
Grant is a Consultant at Training Leadership Consulting (TLC). During his tenure at TLC he has worked in multiple industries around South Africa, and has gained valuable experience in assisting numerous companies in their business improvement journey. Industry Experience: Petroleum, Logistics and Insurance