10 Questions to Answer When Fixing Processes

This post talks about how processes created and implemented in hurry overlook the impact on resources, and do not help in long run. Don’t panic and trap yourself in a complicated web of rules, processes and policies to prevent future happenings when something goes wrong. It becomes quite easy to show the world how well thought and fool-proof bureaucratic system we have put in place to catch problems at each level.  Management asks what checks are in place to prevent this in future, we bring up the slide that shows our safeguards, sometimes without realizing if its sustainable, what goes through such scrutiny.

The day a process failure identified in a process and gets top management’s attention, teams scramble to fix the problem immediately.  All hands on decks! Its stand-down till we fix the issue. Teams become reactive and a lot of work is put in to discover what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again. This is all good but in hurry to fix the problem and report that all is good, often processes are created that add inefficiencies and add bureaucratic layers, approval processes, workflows, checklists, etc., etc.  We all know that finding the origin of the problem and fixing it there is more effective than putting a process that will catch the issue or problem downstream. 

No doubt that we need to plug the hole(s), fix the processes immediately to keep our business running while ensuring it does not happen in future.  Please pay attention to following thoughts & questions when developing and implementing a solution to fix the problem.

  1. Is team 100% reactive. Root cause analysis is there to help.
  2. Did we understand completely, problem might be the tip of the iceberg.
  3. Is it an issue or problem? What are the statistics telling?  Is it recurring problem or it was a rare occurrence?
  4. Assess the impact on system and organization. Seek external input and consult stakeholders.
  5. Discover why it occurred, could it have been avoided, if yes, then how?
  6. Is there any strategy in place through risk assessment exercise to deal with it?
  7. Where does the problem exist – people, processes, technology, data or a combination thereof?
  8. Is new process to fix problem seems kind of bureaucratic? Are you overdoing it? What it does to efficiency / performance of people?
  9. Is new process stifles creativity in any way?
  10. Are there accountablity, attitude or communication related issues present in the teams?
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