I was at a restaurant with some friends this past weekend. Upon arrival, our table was not yet ready, so we were invited to wait in the bar whilst the table was turned over. So, we go to order a few drinks. Amongst the array of tap beers on offer was a pre-mixed spirit… So, we ordered one, however my mate wanted it served without ice… “No can do” says the bar staff, “it must be served with ice.” What? Why? we ask. “Not sure” says the staff member, “however we have been told that we are not allowed to serve this drink without ice.” Astounded at this response, my friend cancelled that order, walked around the bar to the other side and ordered the same mixed spirit measured and poured from a bottle, without ice, and predictably, received his wish, no questions asked.
Now, I’ll admit that this scenario is by no means high stakes in comparison to others that may come to mind, however it is intensely frustrating to experience and does illustrate a common and fundamental problem with business and process design and execution… the over-emphasis on procedural compliance and the resulting degradation of value and outcomes for the customer.
When you reflect on a business rule and procedure such as this one, there are only a limited number of reasons one can think of that would drive such a policy…
1. The manufacturer has arbitrarily determined the serving method to be enforced by the retailer at the point of sale,
2. The retailer benefits from mandating the serving method, ie: higher profit margin, or
3. The retailer has simply not thought about the impacts of their process/policy… and the staff are not empowered to intervene to deliver a better experience.
Any which way you look at it however, it is a poor outcome. And to me, this extends far deeper than ineffective process and procedure design. To remain relevant, businesses must get smarter about how they deliver upon their strategies. Whether inadvertent or otherwise, businesses approaching their operations in the manner described above can expect to suffer a long and slow, self-inflicted death by a thousand cuts, brought on by a lack of focus on the outcomes generated for their customers.
“…For customers to receive full value and optimal outcomes, the traditional process design paradigm must be shifted. Enabling the best outcome for every customer must become the primary driver of the process. Policy boundaries must be considered as enablers of value, rather than just as risk controls and constraints, and staff must have the delegations and empowerment to work within these policy boundaries to deliver the best result possible…”
The whole point of process design is to deliver better outcomes… but whether it’s the search for consistency of service delivery, lack of management trust in employees to make good decisions, or a workplace culture that values procedural compliance ahead of the customer outcome, process design, in many cases, has ironically become the reason why customers receive poor experiences. Additionally, process and procedure design phases are often implemented prior to, or in lieu of, interpretation and integration of strategy with the execution layer of the business. This has the effect of further de-prioritising outcomes and value, as the mode of operational execution is determined prior to the business gaining a consistent understanding of the desired outcomes and the best way to deliver their products, services or value proposition.
To date, the most common definition of a ‘process’ I’ve come across is… “a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular outcome.” It is important to remember that the critical purpose of any process is to achieve an outcome. The actions or steps taken throughout the process should therefore be driven by the intended outcome… not the other way around. Too often however, outcomes are overlooked, and the emphasis of process design is placed on carrying out the series of specified tasks or steps. Compounding this, many businesses then monitor procedural compliance as a measure of the performance of their people. For many processes, this level of compliance assurance is appropriate, however for a great deal of processes, this drives the wrong delivery behaviours, and when the customer outcome required does not perfectly align with the pre-determined process or procedure, there is little chance of a satisfactory result.
For customers to receive full value and optimal outcomes, the traditional process design paradigm must be shifted. Enabling the best outcome for every customer must become the primary driver of the process. Policy boundaries must be considered as enablers of value, rather than risk controls and constraints, and staff must have the delegations and empowerment to work within these policy boundaries to deliver the best result possible. Finally, the process design must be flexible enough to allow adaptations to be made when required so that all customer scenarios can be addressed appropriately. This may mean that the same process could be delivered differently to many different customers. Remember, if the ultimate aim is to deliver the best outcome, then the elements that must change to enable that are the tasks and steps executed in the process… a concept foreign to the majority of process modelling and workflow execution toolsets currently available.
In response to the need for more adaptive and empowering ways to deliver value, I have partnered with Inventec Australia to assist the design and development of SENCILO, an adaptive, outcome-led, value delivery platform. SENCILO enables the deployment of flexible business processes that allow real time adaptations of the process flow based on each individual scenario encountered and the established business policy boundaries. This platform is a shift away from traditional process design and workflow solutions, not only because it allows the user to configure multiple delivery path options for every process, but also allows for the sequence and ordering of tasks to be adapted to the scenario at hand, in real time. SENCILO is a 100% cloud-based platform, and combines business-friendly, low-code configuration, detachable and modular componentry, and multiple, flexible subscription pricing options.
Visit the link below or contact us for more information on how we can help you deliver real outcomes.