Processes Are People, Too

Michelle Cowan's picture

Processes are more than activities, tasks, steps, and procedures. They involve people. Sure, we've mechanized large portions of many processes, but people are never far from the activities. People drive processes, and yet, so many organizations ignore the human element within processes, trying to change the way work is accomplished on a purely mechanical level. Organizations eventually learn that change will never happen without the involvement of people.

Continuous Improvement Barriers

Michelle Cowan's picture

Executing a single improvement initiative is one thing. Creating a culture of continuous improvement is another. The idea of one improvement project is usually fairly clear and straightforward. There is a beginning and an end, clear steps, resources dedicated for certain hours and durations, and a clear end goal or target. What is this business of improving continually? When does it end? Who will sign on indefinitely? Do people understand what's at stake or how we're going to keep this going for any length of time? Continuous improvement is another matter entirely.

Collaborate to Compete

Michelle Cowan's picture

Staying ahead doesn't mean that your competitors can't improve. This week, I was reading Eric Lowitt's latest blog post for the Harvard Business Review: Why Your Company Should Partner with Rivals. So many organizations are afraid to open up and collaborate with competitors because they don't want to lose market share or give another organization undue advantage. What most organizations do not realize is that when an entire industry improves, it reaps the benefits.

Measuring the Cost of Quality

Michelle Cowan's picture

I've never seen an organization market itself as low cost/low quality. That seems like a losing strategy. But can all the organizations that market themselves as low cost/high quality back up that claim? How does an organization know that it's actually achieving higher quality and saving money while costing consumers less? Can an organization really keep its prices low and its quality high? Can leaders track how well they are accomplishing this? Can your organization honestly say that it is the "best value" based on prices, costs, and quality levels?

Feeling Unproductive? Maybe It's Not Your Fault.

Michelle Cowan's picture

Is your organization performing as well as you think it could? Are you using your fullest potential at work? Why or why not?

If you, like many working folks, feel that your potential is untapped or that you could be contributing much more, maybe the problem isn't just you. Maybe occasional laziness and/or distraction aren't the only reasons you can't get as much accomplished as you'd like. Although lack of employee motivation might be one reason why businesses don't reach their objectives, two other causes usually explain the situation much more accurately.

Defining Cross-Functional Processes: Tools and Inspiration

Michelle Cowan's picture

First of all, I want all of my process management folks to check out this video by the Process Excellence (PEX) Network: Welcome to the Process Excellence Revolution.

Metrics for Success: Mixing It Up with Measurement

Michelle Cowan's picture

2011 was a wonderful year at APQC, particularly in process management. However, I must admit that after a year in which we released a major process management report, hosted a process management conference, and launched a study on building strong process management capabilities, even I am ready for a change of pace. Luckily, we are gearing up for a new study on one of my favorite topics: measurement.

Productivity Tips for the Holidays and the Rest of the Year

Michelle Cowan's picture

Even people who don't celebrate a holiday in December feel the effects of largely empty office buildings, holiday parties, extra traffic, and ever-expanding end-of-year task lists. Productivity is part of APQC's name, and we still experience lags during December. It can be difficult to stay focused with plenty of distractions piling up outside the confines of work.

Sometimes It's Not the Thought that Counts

Michelle Cowan's picture

Good intentions are fine when it comes to giving gifts to people you don't know very well, being late for dinner even though you left work early, or forgetting to buy milk even though you wrote it on your list, but they are not enough to make a business successful. Sure, I want to do business with organizations that have the best intentions at heart. But I also expect those organizations to take action on their intentions. If I don't see actions and results, forget about keeping my support or my business.

Out of Your Bubble, Process Nerds

Michelle Cowan's picture

Whew! APQC's 2011 process conference was a huge success. We hosted some fantastic presenters who shared information that people could actually go home and use. You can view the presentations in our 2011 Process Management Conference Presentations and Slides collection. Great stuff in there.