January 12, 2022

Welcome to the Process Primer Blog

Most people have heard of paint priming. It’s the activity of preparing a surface for better paint adhesion – to make paint stick.

Some people have heard of psychology priming. It’s a technique used to train a person’s memory and response to stimuli – to create a predictable reaction to set events or triggers.

But what is process priming? It’s not a term in the dictionary yet, but hopefully it will be someday. Process priming is our approach to designing organizational efficiency and creating a process-driven culture – priming the organization to live into a culture of operational process and then build and implement sustainable processes with them. Our blogs and videos show you the basics on how to create and optimize your processes, as well as where to look for value-driven process opportunities within your organization.

Why do you care about process?

Standardize and optimize your operations for optimal quality and efficiency. Increase profit and reduce waste. Reward and promote employees for the activities that create sustainability and innovation. Create love and kudos from your customers. Sounds simple enough, right?

The goal is to be able to achieve repeatable operational outcomes while continually measuring and improving on the results. It can be used to achieve progress, such as to improve manufacturing and production, consistently recruit skilled talent, engage employees, deliver an exceptional customer experience, perform accounting tasks with efficiency or run IT operational response with precision and predictability.

Why are processes like habits?

Human beings create habits and efficiency ensues. If we had to actively think about every step of every action of everyday life, our brains would overload and shut down.

I recently read the book “The Power of Habit” and loved it.

It describes how the “basal ganglia” part of the brain is responsible for storing habits and routines so you can save up decision-making energy for when it’s really needed. That’s why we don’t have to spend a lot of energy each day actively deciding how to brush our teeth, tie our shoes or drive to work. Our stored routines put those activities on autopilot, so our brain cells are freed up for more important decisions.

We create habits as individuals and those habits create results for us. Often times, some good habits actually kick-start other good habits. These habits are known as “keystone habits.” Take, for example, an individual who decides to exercise regularly. Their initial goal may have been to create a habit of exercise to lose weight or become more fit. What tends to happen is that individual begins to develop secondary “good” habits such as eating more nutritious foods, sleeping earlier, waking up earlier, smoking less (if they are a smoker) and even drinking less alcohol.

Now let’s look at this on a larger scale. When an organization commits to a process improvement journey and is able to identify some of the organization’s keystone habits, what happens when good habits are created in the organization?

Processes in an organization are nothing more than habits in a larger system and they offer tremendous advantages.

How do operational processes help an organization?

Take structured onboarding, as an example. It’s a well-thought-out process of training and acclimatizing new workers to the organization.

Did you know that structured onboarding not only improves new hire retention by 50% but it also contributes to new hire productivity gains of over 50%? The infographic on UrbanBound does a great job of summarizing the benefits. How much does a company stand to save in salaries when they don’t have to pay one of their senior team members to repeatedly train new workers?

Improved onboarding is just one example of process optimization in the workplace. Process optimization helps to streamline efforts, reduce waste and increase profit in all departments – operations, finance, accounting, payroll, information technology, human resources and more.

I’ve spent years leading a variety of technical and non-technical teams, automating and establishing process and building and creating training programs and documentation.

I recall a time when I took over a team that was overloaded and drowning in escalation requests. No matter what they did, they couldn’t seem to get caught up on it. When I arrived, there were no established processes or measurements of performance. The only metric we knew was in bold beside the overcluttered Microsoft Outlook Group Mailbox and it showed over 3,900 unread emails! That was our only performance indicator and it was screaming at us like an angry parent whose child just got red-carded in the Little Tikes soccer game.

Our team implemented processes and metrics, hired and trained great people and achieved operational sustainability within six months. I will be the first to admit that we had great team members and leaders and that obviously played into the team’s success. However, I credit our commitment to process as the reason we were able to get caught up, know when we were caught up, keep it running smoothly on a day-to-day basis and be able to prove it statistically. More importantly, our customers went from being completely frustrated with us to appreciating our commitment to provide them timely and top notch service quality.

I truly believe that all organizations, their employees and their customers will win in a process-driven culture.

Looking to establish and improve process is a habit now, even in my own personal life. I like the challenge of trying to be efficient in all that I do, and I find myself asking questions like, am I being consistent and repeatable with what I’m working on? Am I being efficient or wasteful with my time and resources? Is this the optimal way to do something?

Time is a finite resource for each of us and I wish to make the most of the time I have.

Therefore, I just want to say that I sincerely appreciate you choosing to spend some of your limited time today to read this article. 

Leave a comment if you like. I’d love to hear from you on this topic, whether you agree or disagree with the concept!

If you are interested in assessing your own organization’s process preparedness, please subscribe and we’ll send you a free copy of our self-assessment questionnaire. 

Be safe, be healthy and be efficient.

Your Friendly Neighbourhood Process Consultant

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