2016 SHINGO AWARD RECIPIENT
Companies need problem solvers –individuals with the knowledge and experience to serve as change agents and drive changes that positively impact the bottom line. Unfortunately, there is no singular recipe that can be used consistently that leads to success. What innovators need is a flexible approach that answers three simple yet hard to answer questions.
How their company truly operates is a mystery to many leaders and managers today. When analyzing new opportunities, step one is usually to investigate and uncover how things really get done. Unfortunately, such institutional knowledge resides in the brains of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of employees. In Customer Focused Process Innovation, Hamme explains the process structure – the cascading levels of processes inside a company that depict the major work activities to design, build, sell, and deliver products to customers. Processes are the actualization of the value creation activities that collectively create a customer’s experience. By documenting these work efforts and their interdependencies, we can visualize the flow of work through a company as it proceeds through the process web. Once known, the process structure serves as the foundational blueprint for managing and readjusting the company’s production machine to a continuously changing world.
The process structure is a superior conceptual view of how a company creates value. However, it is people that manufacture products, develop new offerings, and engineer systems to compete in the future. In Customer Focused Process Innovation, Hamme shares a new approach – how innovative companies are discarding the traditional rigid reporting hierarchy and using processes as their organizational structure. By designating individuals to own specific processes, the critical parts of a company become focal points for continual improvement efforts. Equally important, collaboration across process owners is heightened – simply because employees know who is explicitly responsible for the functioning of every significant part of the company.
To keep a company’s leaders and managers from stepping on each other’s toes or from rowing in different directions, a single plan for steering the corporate ship is needed. These days most companies fail to articulate or execute plans that take them anywhere. A big part of the problem is the lack of a foundational perspective – a clear view of the current situation. This issue is remedied with the identification and communication of the company’s process structure. The other part of the problem is the lack of a method to systematically adjust the company’s production mechanism – and to not only to give customers what they really want, but to do so profitably. Customer Focused Process Innovation offers a straightforward method to design, evaluate, and prioritize improvements. Once in place, this approach fluidly manages the launch of initiatives, the shuttering of defunct initiatives, and the manipulation of ongoing initiatives to accelerate the value delivered by the complete portfolio of improvements. In this way, continual improvement becomes fluid and a natural part of ongoing operations – providing a previously unknown level of strategic and operational flexibility.
Today corporate leaders, managers, and other professionals are desperate for simple, intuitive, operational approaches that work. In Customer Focused Process Innovation, Hamme presents a holistic approach that introduces process as the language of not only efficiency, but also customer and strategic improvements. Through the management of the network of processes, a company ties its production to the customer and institutionalizes its ability to naturally adjust to evolving customer tastes, intrusive competitors, and fluctuating governmental policies. While Customer Focused Process Innovation builds upon theories and ideas from previous thought leaders, what makes it unique is the way the approach, tools, and structures are baked into a complete program to run a company — and presented as a field guide – readily available for use in any environment.
COMPANIES NEED PROBLEM SOLVERS
Innovation is addressing tomorrow’s challenges today. What leaders and managers know is that their role did not come with instructions. They need an owner’s manual for their job – a guide to managing and growing their organization, a structure for attacking the corporate chaos and identifying those critical items that determine success or failure – and that is exactly what Customer Focused Process Innovation delivers.
Tomorrow’s solutions rely on how a company organizes work efforts to deliver customer-valued outputs. In other words, how a company manages its processes. By Hamme’s definition, processes are a collection of tasks that take inputs and create outputs. In fact, every company is a web of processes. Work is completed at numerous stops across the company before a finished product is delivered to a customer.
For decades process improvement meant making products better, faster, and less costly, but there is a far greater power to processes. Consider for a moment that the web of interconnected processes in a company is the unique way a company creates value. It is in effect the company’s strategy. If we take this model further to its logical conclusion, it follows that if we calibrate the outputs of this process web to deliver exactly what the customer wants, we have created an incredibly efficient way to develop the perfect product.
But how do we know what the customer wants? Hamme states that by capturing feedback from those connection points where your process web interacts with the customer, rich detail is readily available on the wants, needs, and preferences of the customer. This information provides the target for a company’s strategy. By adjusting the process web, we can adjust the outputs to correlate with the customer information we have collected. In this way, we forge a concrete and direct linkage between a company’s market strategy and its operations.
Success is managing this simplified relationship between the customer and your processes. These concepts are the basis of Customer Focused Process Innovation – building a process-based machine to deliver exactly what the customer wants as efficiently as possible. Embedding this methodology into the DNA of a company leads to the creation of a naturally innovating machine – a fierce competitor in any market.