Process Centered Organizations

Upon review of my organizational chart (a process every business owner should do at least every six months), I realized it was time to revisit my notes and presentations referencing Process Centering. It is always of interest to historically review and compare your organizational charts to give perspectives on your business development and progress. I have included my most current organizational chart for your reference.

The principles of Process Centering (involving Process Ownership, Process Performance, Process Design, and Process Management) are ever so important because business needs, clients demands, and the capacity of your employees are constantly changing. Accurate Organizational Charts, Responsibility Charts, and Process Centering help establish the fabric of your practice and must be woven together diligently for best outcomes.

Process Centering can be simply described by the theory of Gestaltism. The whole is other than the sum of the parts. We shall consider the whole instead of the parts as we create the value proposition. Through our employees’ consideration for the whole and their training for desired outcomes, we can create the value proposition that our clients and customers rely on.

Why Process Centering? We have no choice if we want to compete in meeting the demands of our clients. The problems that exist in modern companies are not task problems, but process problems.

Process Defined – A complete end to end set of activities that together create value to our clients. A task is a unit of work and a process is a related group of tasks that together create value to our clients.

Process Centered Organizations eliminate the word “Supervision” and develop employees of enhanced responsibility and knowledge to get the work done right. Key words in a process centered organization are: group, together, results and clients.

A task-oriented company creates inefficiency because it gets locked into doing things a certain way and do not understand how individual tasks combine to create the desired results. As our knowledge workers leave the realm of “task masters” and enter the world of “process performers”, business will embark on a new crusade to lower costs, improve productivity, increase flexibility, and ultimately enhance the client experience.

Process Centering eliminates misunderstandings by employees of how individual tasks combine to get desired outcomes. Employees are no longer locked into fixed ways of doing things with no flexibility. The capacity of our employees (now called process performers) to explain to clients the status of the process whose results they await is greatly improved, resulting in enhanced client experiences. In summary, poor caliber of results is not from poor performance of tasks, but from poor task integration.

Process Centering then is a shift in perspective where there is more concern with results and new key words emerge such as: Group, Together, Results and Client. People in a process centered organization must redirect their thinking, change their behavior, increase skill sets, and increase their caliber of results.

Work activities can be classified into two categories: value adding and non-value adding. Value adding work is what customers are willing to pay for and non-value adding work creates no value to the customer but is required to get the value-adding work done. Non-value added work is the glue that binds the value added work in place and is characterized by administrative overhead which can be a source of errors, delays, inflexibility and rigidity. It can add complexity and confusion to a process that may be already hard for the client to understand and in some organizations, it can represent the bulk of the cost inherent to a product or service. Our goal then should be to re-engineer or re-design the value added tasks into a new and more efficient process, thereby eliminating as much non-value added activity as possible.

Let’s use an analogy. You have two egg shell puzzles to put together. One egg shell puzzle has many small pieces and the other egg shell puzzle has fewer but much larger pieces. The former egg shell puzzle will require much more glue than the latter because there are just more pieces of the egg shell puzzle to put together. The glue in this analogy represents non-value added work and the egg shells as our value added work. I propose that we start to think of jobs in our organizations as pieces of an egg shell puzzle. Translated – the bigger the egg shell the bigger the job.

Lets create bigger and more meaningful jobs in the workplace so inherently we will use less glue (non-value added work) in pursuit of the outcomes and experiences we desire for our clients. Remember our clients are willing to pay for value-added work much more readily than non-value added work.

In summary, process centering eliminates the need for non-value adding work by creating bigger jobs for those performing the value-adding activities. The end result is less supervision of employees who are doing the work (tasks), fewer organizational meetings adding no value to our customers, and more work getting done by our process workers. Jobs will blatantly look different in an organization utilizing process centering.

We can all relate to times when it seems like all we do is have “all those meetings” with little resolution to the day-to-day problems we encounter. This scenario cultivates excesses and significant non-value adding activity which engenders insignificant value to our clients and customers.

My next blog post will characterize jobs in a process centered organization and their consequences to people and culture.

I want to leave you with one more thought… in process centered organizations, successful people do not use, oversee, instruct, manipulate, or control others – but instead, others use the successful person. Since jobs are more complex and self-organizing in a process centered culture, process workers are transformed into knowledge workers and not just task masters.

These process workers will inherently demand more resources and support as they advance their careers. Please note that I reference their careers and not their jobs.

In process centered cultures, people discover that their contribution to others, no matter how small, will result in success because success is measured by the number of people they serve. Consequently, the truly successful people recognize opportunities that bring meaning to their lives.

Service to others is the essence of a successful organization and no one achieves success without being of service to others. All great men and women became successful because they gave some talent or ability in the service of others.

The truly successful person doesn’t use others, other people use the successful person.

In summary, revisit your organizational charts, identify and characterize processes that define your organization’s strategic advantages in the marketplace and engineer bigger jobs to enhance the caliber of outcomes you deserve.

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