Business and organizational development is about business process change: not as in “process change – the event”, but “process change – the journey“. Your business processes change in response to market forces, competition, regulations, customer demand, the economy, culture, personal beliefs, and many other factors. The question isn’t about what is causing the business process changes — we know your business processes are going to change — the question is do you have a plan to document processes and procedures?
Dateline: Utopia, Somewhere in the Near Future
In Utopia, we define our business processes as we develop them. We plan for the inevitable by formalizing many of our processes. Granted, there are some processes that are so simple, it doesn’t make sense to document them. Where it makes sense, we make a plan to document processes and procedures so that, among other things, we:
(a) have a baseline for improving them and,
(b) can train people, should the need arise.
Staying Ahead of Change
However, we don’t adhere to our procedures so rigidly that we’re unprepared for change. We review our processes routinely – as we’re in the midst of them, and on a periodic basis – so we know if we’re getting the results we want. This way, we also know if we’re making our customers happy, if we’re staying abreast or ahead of the competition, and if we’re taking advantage of every opportunity.
Some time ago, we were fortunate enough to learn from some of our mistakes. One of those mistakes which almost cost us dearly was writing our procedures without knowing where we were coming from or where we were headed. Basically, we were told to document key processes in order to be compliant, so we jumped in to document those processes without a plan.
We didn’t take a look at the big picture, at first. We didn’t understand that we were parachuting into a continuous journey somewhere in the middle of it. It was like being set down in uncharted territory without a plan, let alone the proper provisions and tools.
After several unsuccessful attempts to make deadlines and meet other ill-defined or undefined requirements, we came to the realization that we were starting our journey in the middle without a clear view of where we came from, where we were headed, or how we would get there. Without a clearly defined plan to document processes and procedures, our journey was always arriving at the same destination: Failure.
How many times have you had to document something and wished you had a map showing “You Are Here”? Or, wished you’d started with a better plan to document processes and procedures?