Archives for posts with tag: Process

Completing the circle of a process is so important, otherwise you can’t restart the process from the right palace. This is especially true in business, sales, marketing, in fact pretty much anything involving a project or initiative.

The way to do this is to ask ourselves: how did we do? What was the actual result of the activity, against the target or goals we set for it? Too often we finish a project, a month or a quarter and then we launch into the next one, always looking ahead. But if we don’t look back and review how we did, and take on some learnings, then we don’t improve.

One area I find frustrating is in the area of weather forecasting. They’re in the business of scientific predictions. They’re always looking ahead. I’m sure they review their actual performance internally, but it’s oh so rare to hear the weather industry publicly review its performance against forecast, for the benefit of its consumers.

You could argue that economics is another one, but actually economics shouldn’t be about predicting. The role of economics is to explain what happened. They can’t accurately predict what will happen, or else we’d all be worth a fortune.

No, economics is about ‘what did we do?’ For many other walks of life and work, though, it should be ‘how did we do?’


Sometimes automation adds to a process rather than improves it. It automates the human chaos.

The first time I encountered the McDonald’s automated self-ordering system was at Dublin airport a year or so ago. It simply took too long to order my early breakfast meal so I went to the counter and did it the old-fashioned way.

I was again reminded of this fact recently in France, when my whole family was in with another family for a special treat. There’s hardly ever a queue for the ordering ‘machines’, but it took simply ages to navigate through the menu 7 times for each order, then figure out which part of the restaurant we were in so the staff could deliver our food. There appeared to be no option to go up and order the old fashioned way.

After we had got our meals I watched a Welsh family trying to order deserts and coffees. They couldn’t find the screen with the coffees. It had disappeared. They didn’t have much French, and tried to enlist the help of a staff member, who tried to do the same with her slightly broken English. She couldn’t help so then had to find another staff member to help. This staff member then said ‘the coffee machine is broken and coffee is not available today, sorry.’ Obviously someone had the ability to disable the relevant screens when a product is unavailable, but this was not apparent to the customer. 15 minutes had passed during this process.

A more traditional ordering system might have taken a third of the time, even with traditional queueing, and gone like this:

‘Hi, can I have 2 McFlurries and a coffee please?’

‘The coffee machine is broken and coffee is not available today, sorry.’

‘OK, just the McFlurries then please.’

People, process, technology. If you don’t get the mix right, you make it worse, not better.

Software can help us improve our productivity and automate our operations, which in turn can feed better revenues and increase profitability. Many of us feel strongly that automating B2B processes are the way to go. Removing manual tasks helps people focus on the areas where they can really add value.

With new software coming in, it’s easy to forget that you’re not actually buying software, you’re buying change. This is where the problems start, because you need to manage change. It’s not something we humans are particularly good at it. It’s why 70% of change programs fail.

With any kind of change program, you also need to change your processes. Before you start the change, you need to audit, improve and tweak your processes. Then, with the new processes in place and properly embedded, you can bring in the new software, the change.

If you don’t do this, you’re simply spending money and automating the mess, the current mess you have.

And that’s probably worse than doing nothing at all.

You’re familiar with the phrase ‘who’s policing the police?’. One thing that has recently taxed my brain is this: who’s watching the recycling?

As a nation, Ireland is pretty decent at recycling household waste. Better than the Brits and way better than the Americans, not as good as our Teutonic friends.

Our actual waste wheelie bin is dwarfed in weight by our recycling bin, which goes out every fortnight full to the brim, if bins have brims. We’re very good, as a family I think, at reducing, reusing and recycling.

But, just because we recycle well as a family, that don’t mean a thing once our bin’s contents are upended into the recycling waste truck. What happens then?

I sure as heck don’t know. For all I know, they might be throwing the recycling into landfill. Maybe people aren’t as judicious with their recycling and are adding items that can’t be recycled. How are the waste companies sorting the different types of recycled material? Are they removing non-recyclable stuff? Again, I don’t know. We’re trusting in a process that we have no visibility of whatsoever.

We’re pleased with ourselves at how good we are at recycling, yet we’re not actually recycling. We’re starting the recycling process but we’ve no idea how it ends, or in fact how much of it ends.

Sometimes, when you’re too busy to see the work for the trees, it’s difficult to take a step back from what you’re doing and analyse if you could be doing it better.

Process is so important to what we’re doing. You have to get the right steps in place and then make sure you’re doing the steps in the right order.

When I was much younger I was staying in my Uncle’s pub for a while and I was washing his car. After a¬†few minutes he came out and said, ‘what are you doing?’ ‘I’m washing the wheels,’ I replied. You see, the wheels are the fiddly filthy bits that I wanted to get out of the way first.

‘Yes,’ he said, ‘but now the water’s filthy for washing everything else. Start with the windows and glass first, then go from the top of the car down to the bottom. And start again with clean water.’

Process. You have to get the order right, and you have to do the right things too.

Workflow, as the name suggests, is about the flow of work, the process you go through. If you don’t get the workflow as good as it can be, you work slow, or you work poorly.