One of the more prevalent process issues organizations wrestle with seems to involve the appropriateness and wisdom of moving to higher levels of process discipline. In the CMMI world, this is generally referred to as Achieving Higher Levels of Process Maturity; in other domains, you may hear it referred to as SPC (Statistical Process Control), evidence informed management, or similar.
Addressing this issue minimally entails three major decision points:
- How do I make the move from where I am?
- Is it worth the effort?
- How do I know when we have achieved our objective(s)?
In this second of three posts, I will briefly discuss some aspects of worth. In the context of Improvement Programs, I often find it valuable to equate the term worth with the phrase “Value Proposition“.
So let us examine what the phrase “Value Proposition” entails. An excerpted definition of the term “Value Proposition” from “Investopedia” can help us establish a shared understanding:
A business or marketing statement that summarizes why a consumer should buy a product or use a service. […] The ideal value proposition is concise and appeals to the customer’s strongest decision-making drivers. […]
I think it is safe to say, in the case of improving our own processes, we are the customer of our own effort(s). We need to know what we want to accomplish and those objectives need to support our own “strongest decision drivers”. In other words, we need to deliberately target “doing the right things, the right way.” If we are to succeed by taking the shortest path possible, we need to have a good plan, based upon solid information.
Over the years numerous historical figures have offered their thoughts on the matter including:
- Benjamin Franklin who is thought to have said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
- Sir Winston Churchill is credited with having said, “Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.”
- Thomas A. Edison said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
To truly determine worth, we not only need a plan (approach) but also “markers” to gauge progress and establish worth (value, payback). The markers we ultimately choose need to be meaningful, not arbitrary. They, also, need to be broadly understood by those engaged in the effort. They are best when they are both tangible and fungible. Most importantly, be certain that your measurement (progress) markers do not enter the realm of the arbitrary and capricious.
In the end, it is all about being prudent, wise, explicit, and intentional. Improvement programs deserve to be run in a professional manner. Success is most effectively reached (and most well remembered) when ‘the right’ objectives are established and tracked.
There are an almost limitless array of progress indicators (markers, measures) by which to gauge an organization’s success. Here are a few that are frequently measured:
- Reduced defects
- Improved efficiency
- Improved customer satisfaction
- Reduced delivered defects
- Improved productivity
- On-time Benefits
- Regulatory Compliance
- Standards registrations
- Employee Satisfaction
- Improved Market Share
Once you have an improvement plan with real objectives, relevant progress indicators, and enthusiastic participation, you will easily be able to ascertain, evaluate, and determine its worth.
As I noted in my earlier posting, remember, your mileage may vary. Drive prudently and keep your eyes on the road!