Formula One automobile racing has been around for many decades. I find it particularly interesting to track the performance of the F1 cars over the years and compare today’s top speeds with those of bygone vehicles.
In every instance, innovation has played a defining role in the improved track times.
And, it goes without saying, auto racing is not the only pursuit that has benefited from technological advancements.
Let’s take a look at the effect that innovation can have on your business.
Business process innovation may be one of the best options for creating a roadmap for sustainable success. Innovation, in this case, is not defined as a means of reinventing and creating new processes. Instead, it refers to reviewing and improving existing systems and processes which includes taking into account technology needs to help streamline operations and avoid waste.
The most straightforward and effective method of spearheading this business process innovation is to follow the DMAIC approach – Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. DMAIC is a proven quality improvement approach for eliminating defects in your business processes and improving quality-related business metrics.
Business leaders should use this step to prime their teams and the organization as a whole to spell out expectations, project goals and timelines. The Define stage includes:
- Liaising with and getting Board-level approval for the process innovation project
- Determining the appropriate project scope and outlining a project charter – streamline processes and eliminate waste
- Identifying key stakeholders and team members
- Establishing team ground rules and responsibilities.
At this stage, the business leader should take responsibility for establishing current baselines in order to boost evidence-based decision-making, including:
- Developing a data collection plan that includes analysis to verify data accuracy
- Establishing key metrics for collection, that could be at the process, machine or individual level
- Creating baseline charts and graphs to distribute to the team.
The best way to establish measures is to focus on three key areas: people, processes and technology.
This step helps leadership move beyond treating the symptoms of business problems by:
- Performing process analysis to identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies and waste (time, money and product)
- Setting up brainstorming meetings to collectively determine root causes of problems.
- Verifying the proposed root causes of the problems.
The process of verification is absolutely essential in ensuring that decisions are made based on fact and data, and not on intuition alone.
This step allows the team to use what they have understood from the preceding steps to problem solve and innovate solutions that can be developed and tested using a variety of techniques. This phase includes:
- Implementation of brainstorming sessions to identify and test ideas for innovation and improvement
- Making use of techniques to determine the most appropriate solutions
- Selection, implementation and education of solutions
- Testing and measuring of the solution.
The final phase of the process is designed to ensure successful implementation of the team’s recommendations by cementing any new methods as standard operating procedures. This involves:
- Identifying the value-add in tackling problems/waste
- Implementing procedures to eliminate hidden costs of the status quo
- Transferring of responsibilities and establishing plans for long-term review and process control.
Communicating project success is integral at this stage as it boosts a culture of change within the business.
Optimizing and stabilizing business projects is much the same as keeping a high performance vehicle on the road – it takes careful planning, a dedicated team, regular maintenance and steadfast attention to detail.
Once you have innovated your processes and removed waste you will be in a position to embrace digital business and making it easier for your suppliers and customers to do business with you. More on this in a future blog.