All posts in Management


The Secrets to Making a Bureaucratic Organization Run Like a Startup

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As you’ll have noticed when you phone call centers, visit the bank, or deal with the government in any capacity, bureaucracy can make organizations slow and frustrating to deal with.

Endless forms and complex layers of approval impact a company’s services along with the morale of its employees. It can leave organizations unable to adapt to new market pressures or external threats.

The UK Home Office, during the Windrush Scandal, ended up wrongly deporting many people who came to Britain after the Second World War from the Caribbean. It was exposed that these people were being wrongly deported yet deportations and other negative effects continued, as illustrated by The Guardian. The organization failed to respond adequately, and a scandal was born.

Despite all this, large organizations in our society – whether they’re governments or big business – aren’t just going to go away. Instead they need to find ways to adapt and improve while retaining the benefits which pushed them to develop complex bureaucratic structures in the first place.

The big question is: how do you manage operations within a bureaucratic organization so that it can run with the agility of a startup?

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In this Process Street article, we’ll explore:

  • When, how, and why bureaucratic organizations experience slow movement
  • The failures of large organizations to achieve efficiency
  • 4 key examples of big bodies trying to break free from the problem
  • Our important takeaways for how you can maintain agility and efficiency in a large organization

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Don’t Micromanage: How It Destroys Your Team and How to Avoid It

micromanage

It’s hard watching someone make mistakes, especially if you already know how to avoid them.

Staying silent while they slip up (or even do things in ways you would not) is harder.

That doesn’t mean you have an excuse to micromanage them.

Micromanagement is the ultimate controlling management style. It’s demoralizing and counter-intuitive, as the desire for control to make sure everything goes to plan only creates more problems in the long-term.

That’s why we here at Process Street will be going through:

  • What micromanagement is
  • The pros and cons of it
  • How to spot a micromanager
  • How to replace micromanagement with OKR
  • Using processes to remove the need for micromanagement

Let’s get started.

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Pinch Analysis: Process Improvement Tips From Thermodynamics, Cars, and Cooking

pinch analysis

Pinch analysis is a difficult topic to talk about, as it both has widely applicable techniques which can reduce the need for external resources, but it’s traditionally very complicated and used in a limited business sector.

That’s why today I’ll be breaking down the topic and showing how the principles behind it can be used across any and all disciplines.

You don’t have to be a thermodynamics buff to understand this; it all comes down to analyzing what you have, what by-products your processes create, and whether you can use those by-products to your advantage.

By doing this, traditional pinch analysis is able to typically result in energy savings of 10-35% – that’s a third less energy you need to generate or import to carry out your processes.

Lets’ get stuck in.
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Human Error: How to Prevent Your Team From Self-Sabotaging

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No matter how foolproof you think your operations are, human error will always pose a threat. Heck, it’s already responsible for 52% of security and data breaches, was the root cause of a host of famous tragedies, and can strike at any time.

But what exactly is human error, and how can we limit its effects if it can’t be completely prevented?

To answer that question, we here at Process Street have broken it down for you. In this article, you’ll learn:

  • The four types of human error
  • How the different types of human error are caused
  • The single technique to combat each type in your business

It’s time to stop leaving your success open to random chances of failure.

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Project Scope: How to Meet Deadlines and Keep Stakeholders Happy

project scope

Have you ever had a project which never seems to end? One which you either underestimated or kept adding tasks to as you went along?

That’s exactly what setting out your project scope will prevent.

By analyzing the elements of your projects before starting, you can set out the scope of the work in order to prevent extra work getting added (without adjusting the necessary resources) and avoid taking on projects too large for your team to handle.

Not to mention that the principles behind project scope can be applied elsewhere in your business too.

“I call this the Scopi-locks principle.

Don’t make your product too big, because no-one will adopt it. Don’t make your product too small, because it’s not worth adopting. You have to [get it] just right such that it’s worth poor people pulling it into their lives and, when they do, that they get some value out of it.” – Des Traynor (co-founder of Intercom) on product scope

Let’s get stuck right in with project scope by breaking down what it is, what you need to know before creating it, and how to use it in action.

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Takt Time: How Ford Learned to Make WWII Bombers 24x Faster

takt time

The Ford Production System paved the way for most modern lean manufacturing, and the best physical embodiment of it was the Willow Run B-24 bomber production facility in WWII.

After intervention from Ford, Willow Run was able to go from producing one bomber per day to one per hour. That’s 24x their original output.

At the heart of the facility stood the “pacing clock”. This monitored what we now call takt time.

Takt time is the pulse of your operations – the rhythm and rate by which tasks and products are completed. By monitoring and setting guidelines for this single figure, Ford (and company) was able to build a facility which could produce the same as half of the entire German aircraft industry.

That’s why today we’ll be breaking down what takt time is, how to calculate it, and how it can be used in almost any system to reliably track your progress and provide an early warning system for any problems you encounter.

Let’s get started!

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Brand Audit: How to Help Win Over 91% of Your Target Audience

Brand Audit

Branding is a fickle thing.

Even the most consistent brand images can be shaken by a few high profile missteps, but when used correctly it can be a powerful tool for making your product or services instantly recognizable and attractive to your target audience.

To do this, you need to have a regular process for a performing a brand audit.

This will let you build a specific perception of your brand, such as one of an authentic, reliable company. This can have massive benefits too; the Authentic Brands study of 2014 by Cohn and Wolfe surveyed opinions of 12,000 people over 12 markets. They found that brand honesty (along with not letting customers down) was most highly valued with 91% saying it was important in their view of brands.

That’s why this post will take you through what a brand audit is, the elements of audience brand perception, how to measure what they think of you, and how to help shape the brand image that you want to give.

Let’s get started!

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How to Ensure Compliance When 23% of Employees Don’t Understand Their Job

Ensure Compliance with Employees

In a study of 400 businesses in the UK and US, global analyst firm IDC established that 23% of employees don’t understand a core part of their job. Combined with the potential damage that human error can cause, it’s easy to see why it’s important to make sure that your processes are being followed to the letter.

Still, nobody enjoys hearing the term “ensure compliance” when it comes to their team. It’s cold, impersonal, and conjures up images of school students being sent to detention or prisoners under strict watch, and if your team feels the same then their morale will quickly plummet.

Here at Process Street, we’re well versed in the problems with documenting, managing, and deploying your processes. That’s why this post will take care of those compliance problems by giving you some killer tips to make sure your team sticks to their methods without alienating them with harsh policies.

Let’s dive right in!

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How to Build Better Employee Accountability with Processes

According to the American Management Association, one-quarter of workers seem to avoid responsibility on the job on average, and 21% of companies believe that the figure is as high as 30-50%. From these stats, it’s clear that low employee accountability is wasting company money on a massive scale.

At the same time, almost two thirds of employees believe their company does not have a strong culture. The link between these two factors is strong, argues management consultant and author Roger Connors. Connors blends The Wizard of Oz with now-influential writings on employee accountability in a series of best-selling leadership books including The Oz Principle and Change the Culture, Change the Game. In the latter, he says:

“Our experience proves that accountability, done the right way, produces greater transparency and openness, enhanced teamwork and trust, effective communication and dialogue, thorough execution and follow-through, sharper clarity, and a tighter focus on results. Accountability should be the strongest thread that runs through the complex fabric of any organization” — Roger Connors, Change the Culture, Change the Game

To paraphrase Connor, a business’ employee accountability depends on leaders creating a transparent culture where responsibility is clear, transparent, and owned. One way to bring clarity to the way your business operates is to use standardized processes and leverage technology that helps track activity, assign tasks, and facilitate hand-offs.

In this article, we’ll go through the links between processes, accountability and company culture, and give you tips on how to improve your business in those areas. But first, let’s look closely at the ties between accountability and culture.

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How to Tighten Up Your Approval Process and Smash the Bottleneck

approval process headerWhether you’re submitting a draft of an article for review, collating a report for senior management, or presenting a product design, you probably need someone to sign off on your work.

This happens day in day out in organizations all around the world.

Yet, the sign off process can be slow and littered with delays.

Anyone who has worked in software development will know the pain of submitting work for review, only for revisions and changes to drone on and on. The time spent waiting can sometimes be as much as the time spent working.

And this, friends, is bad for business.

Last week I published an article on Muda – waste in production systems – and laid out the different ways poor processes create waste and damage business performance. One of those wastes is referred to as Time on Hand, or waiting.

In this article, we’ll look to cover the most common occurrence of this waste: the approval flow. We’ll look at:

  • What an approval process is
  • What common approval workflows are
  • Best practices for approvals
  • How you can use Process Street to streamline your approvals

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