What Is a Tip For Improving Your Processes?

As we mentioned back in episode 3, just about everything we do is a process. You could take any aspect of your day and break it down into steps that you might create a work flow for… you know, if you really wanted to do something like that.

At your organization, no doubt… hopefully… you have different standard operating procedures or instructions for different items that happen to make your company work.

But how do you know if they are robust enough? How can you tell if they need some improving or tightening up.

There are plenty of things you could do, but I want to suggest one for simplicity.

Ask questions. Act like an outsider, someone new. Or better yet, take someone new or from a totally different department and have them try to walk through one of your organization’s procedures and ask their own questions.

I’ve found that, often, we maybe aren’t communicating as much as we thought (leaving communication gaps) because we are too close to a process.

Our brains may be filling in those gaps for us, answering questions that we didn’t even ask verbally, and allowing us to get to the right destination.

But when someone new is dropped in there (or we’re able to try to look from a new perspective), we can unearth some potentials for miscommunication, defective parts, letting customers down, and more.

So, here is your challenge for today.

Find a written (or maybe even a verbal) process.

Then, for each step, ask as many questions as you can come up with. EVEN IF YOU ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWERS.

Ask away.

For example:

Step 1. Open the HPE file, fill out lines 1-3 and submit it to the sales department
– What is HPE?
– Where can I find this HPE file?
– Does everyone have access to it or could there be a problem for some?
– Is the file editable?
– Should I save a copy or change the actual file?
– Who should I contact if I have questions?
– How should I submit it to sales? Email, paper, fax, carrier pigeon (I hear those are making a comeback)
– Who specifically in sales should get it?

You get the picture. I’ve found this exercise to be really eye-opening when I’ve done it with procedures on manufacturing lines where I’ve worked. And it has always opened up the potential for a communication gap and given us an opportunity to close that gap before it leads to something bad.

So, good luck with your quest. If you find that you’re not coming up with many questions, grab someone new and have them go through it. I think you’ll find their input invaluable.

If you’ve been enjoying the podcast, I’d love it if you’d leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts at shawnwashburn.com/apple   Thanks for listening to today’s episode.