vendredi 12 juin 2015

Agile, but quality delivering organization?

I had the chance to work within a mammoth organization who is undertaking ambitious transformations in order to be more agile. I would like to talk about this subject with a focus on processes.

So why we need processes?  In a mammoth organization, processes guarantee quality. Indeed, when we have so many people doing different activities on many products in different locations... things get really complicated! thus we need to organize the interactions among people to minimize operational and financial risks, and provide fine KPIs for management. Moreover, processes reflect the learning curve of an industrialized organization and give an important guidance framework for employees to work conveniently.

Unfortunately, depending on their design and philosophy, processes can increase dramatically the inertia of the mammoth, thus its efficiency, and create a huge frustration among employees and customers. I noticed that when you design a process as taylored-style black boxes with inputs and outputs, well, the people inside these black boxes just get blinded!!! Indeed, the result is dilution syndrome:
  • Dilution of information: precious information get lost through the process.
  • Dilution of responsibility: In crisis, it becomes difficult to identify a clear responsible for resolving the problems, instead each actor hides behind its process! That doesn't help people develop sense of autonomy.
  • Dilution of purpose: employees forget about the final purpose for which the process was made, and the process becomes the purpose itself!
Well, we are not in the Ice Age anymore, and Mammoths should evolve in order to survive. The winning DNA is agility in our age, the age of quick changes, real time information, incertitude and globalization.
So how can we get agile, but quality delivering organization? In my point view, a couple of aspects must be well considered:
  • Is a process always the solution for a workflow? I don't think so. Project management can be better adapted in certain cases. The choice can be made according to the complexity and the stakes of the workflow. Hybrid paradigms can be thought of also, for example designing only high level processes and giving more flexibility to actors.
  • Actors of the process must understand the process globally and especially it's final purpose. The management must develop a collaborative culture with transversal skills, and autonomy.
  • Set up 2.0 participative mechanisms for improving processes rapidly by managers and users.
  • Provide digital tools respecting the philosophy of the previous aspects: knowledge management, collaborative and communication tools, intelligent workflow tools...
 Mammoths, be aware of natural selection!!!

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