Friday, 14 March 2014 10:10

Why Leading Companies Always Have a Process

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Do you know the customers you want to know

Want to grow your business a certain amount this quarter? Focus on the process and let the rest fall into place. The problem with goals is that a single victory appears long off on the horizon. The fragile creatures that we are don’t like feeling inadequate on our journey towards a goal. Large goals make it so much easier to tell yourself, there’s always tomorrow. You want to achieve success every day, not beat yourself up chasing it.

Highly intelligent people need and use processes. A process can be rather simple and the most successful ones are just that. A very simple process attacked a $40 billion problem and it wasn’t even a unique idea. Similar to the way a pilot uses a checklist before takeoff, the Michigan Health and Hospital Association tested out a process for reducing hospital-based infections. They gave doctors and nurses a checklist to prevent infection when inserting catheters:
  1. Wash hands.
  2. Cover the patient with sterile drapes.
  3. Clean the skin with chlorhexidine antiseptic.
  4. Do not insert catheters into the groin area.
  5. Remove catheters as soon as they are no longer needed.
Three months after implementation the median rate of infection was 0 and remained so for an additional 15 months. They took this success and applied it to more procedures with same results. Yes, doctors needed to be reminded to wash their hands. Hospitals struggle to get their hand-washing rates above 50% and yet everyone knows how to do it.

A process needs to be simple for it to be effective.
If it isn't simple you won't get 100% participation. Your process can't depend on having the perfect people. The reality is your team isn't going to be perfect, people aren't perfect.
A process needs to be transparent.

Of course doctors know they need to wash their hands, but the real benefit of the checklist was that nurses and doctors worked together to hold each other accountable. It created a culture of accountability from one where no questions were typically asked. You cannot implement a process without accountability.

A process will evolve

With a common language and new culture, a perpetual growth machine is built. As everyone is a part of the process they contribute to its growth and specialization. The hand-washing sign is born.

You're an entrepreneur and it's your job to build a successful business. You need to put the processes in place for marketing, lead generation, sales, operations and development. Whatever process you choose, doesn't matter. You must put a stake in the ground today that gives everyone daily actionable support.  Start small, and make it easy. Pick a problem, give it a process and be accountable. Don't expect people to wash their hands if you're not there to remind them why.

Recommended reading:

The Checklist Manifesto
The Pronovost checklist