Innovation is the key that unlocks revolutionary business process design.
I was fortunate enough to spend a year doing Industrial Design. As it turned out, I didn't do too well. The practical and technical skills required for lathe-work and plastics manufacturing just never manifested, but I realised then that the design process intrigued and excited me, and it still does. My initial exposure to the process of design planted deep, hardy seeds, and throughout my career in software development, financial services, and training, those seeds have produced roots and trees and fruit.
Design really is everything
I have loved business process design since I started working. Of course, I didn't call it 'business process design' and knew nothing about 'business process management'; I just loved mapping out what I was doing or what my team was doing, so that we could find ways of doing those things better. I loved the idea that a thought could become a diagram, that the diagram could become an action, and that that action could produce a business outcome. That process has always seemed slightly magical to me - after all, seeing a business outcome that began as an idea is the very definition of turning dreams into reality.
So, what does industrial product design have to do with business process design? Simply put: everything.
Dieter Rams was a famous Industrial Designer who asked the question, 'Is my design good enough?'. In an attempt to answer this complex question, he came up with ten principles of good product design. The ten principles that Mr Rams arrived at are universal design principles. They do not only apply to Industrial Design; they apply to design in general.
The first of the ten principles that Dieter Rams arrived at, in answer to the question 'Is my design good enough?' was 'Is it innovative?'
The first thing that he considered was innovation. To innovate means to introduce something new, or as if for the first time. When we analyse and build business processes we should keep this in mind: we need to innovate. It is pointless taking a manual process and simply replicating it digitally. That is certainly not innovation.
So what is innovation?
Google, among the most innovative companies in the world today, has never been shy about sharing their experiences and procedures. One of the most interesting set of principles that Google has published is their 'Nine Principles of Innovation'. These principles underpin the creation of an innovation culture in an organisation, and apply directly to business process analysis and design.
The principle I'd like to focus on for the purposes of this article is Principle 3, named 'Think times 10 not 10 percent'.
We need to aim for a transformative set of processes that yield a tenfold return. All too often we set out to replicate current, often manual, processes in our business process management suites. We tend to believe that automation is innovation. Our return is then directly proportionate to the lack of design effort employed.
Innovation means that we must aim high, not just incrementally higher, but significantly higher. Here we look for revolution rather than evolution. We look for transformation rather than change. This doesn't mean that we need to re-invent the proverbial wheel every time we design a process. It can often mean that we simply improve our wheels. The difference is in the outcomes. The difference is in the thought, the details, the commitment to excellence. The difference can be, and should be, revolutionary.
In the analysis and design of business processes take the following practical suggestions into account:
- Remember that design is everything. What we design will become our reality.
- We can build business processes that are either good, bad or great. Our design will make the difference.
- We must aim for revolutionary change.
Aiming high means that we must drill down into the details. When designing a process, we must understand all components of that process.
For example - do you know the full cost of your current process?
There are always below-the-line costs that we must understand, such as the cost of time. If the process is complicated, inefficient and badly designed, how much time is each instance of that process taking to execute? We must then aim for a tenfold improvement. If a process currently costs $10 to execute, we must aim for an improvement that results in a $1.00 process. If a process takes an hour, we must aim to deliver it in a few minutes. We must aim this high!
At FlowCentric Technologies, we believe that your innovative design develops alongside our innovative technology; there are always opportunities for innovation. Whatever the business process you have and regardless of how mature your process design methodologies are, there is opportunity for innovative, revolutionary change.
The time to start is now!
Take a look at Collaborate if you would like to start designing innovative business processes.
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