Improve your processes
Tuesday, June 3, 2008/
A helpful approach to tackle any task is to view it as a series of processes. BRENDAN LEWIS
By Brendan Lewis
Finding inspiration (as a non-writer) for a smart blog every week became really difficult after the third article. The first three pretty much wrote themselves as they were topics that I had thought about for years – “I reckon I could easily write an article on xxx”. After a while though, writing has become easier with inspiration appearing almost every day.
Writing becomes easier after a while, but dealing with editors doesn’t. Every time they change I have to train a new one.
Although this sounds arrogant, the truth is I am part of their process, but they probably don’t see it in exactly that way. I see processes like cockroaches. This isn’t a metaphor for yucky things that need squishing. It’s a description of what I draw when designing processes.
I draw each process as a block.
And each process has four external relations:
- A manager.
- An operator.
- A supplier.
- A customer.
And each process has inputs and outputs for each of the external relations.
For my blog at SmartCompany:
- The manager is James Thomson, the editor who wants to make sure that there is fresh content everyday.
- The operator is Steve Burnham, the sub editor who checks my blog and posts it.
- The supplier is me; I create and send in the content.
- The customer is you; you want to benefit from my writings.
Looking at the inputs and outputs:
- As the manager, James’ input is his requirements for content direction, the output he requires is notification that my blog has been posted.
- As the operator, Steve’s input is an edited version of my blog, the output is confirmation that the blog has been posted.
- As a supplier, my input to my blog is the content. The output I require is acknowledgement that the blog has been received plus occasional feedback on direction.
- As the customer, your input is a request to read this page, the output is the edited content.
Now the interesting thing about this view of the world is that you can zoom in or out, because each process is made up of processes.
At the top level, you could describe SmartCompany as a process.
Its managers are its owners and operators are its staff. Its suppliers are you (your supplying eyeballs) and its customers are media buyers and others that want to advertise to you.
Drill down a level and you see a number of processes that are interconnected.
You could continue to drill down, and down and down until each of the processes is simply a task (see the cockroaches?).
When you design processes this way, every process has a clearly defined purpose, customers, suppliers, operators and managers. Developing performance indicators is a snap. It also ensures that the purpose fits in with the organisational purpose. Finally, you can present the newly designed process with the right amount of details for the audience. Big picture or detailed view.
I think my cockroaches are pretty cool. Now to get the new editor to acknowledge he has received my content……….
Brendan Lewis is a serial technology entrepreneur having founded : Ideas Lighting, Carradale Media, Edion, Verve IT, The Churchill Club, Flinders Pacific and L2i Technology Advisory. He has set up businesses for others in Romania, Indonesia and Vietnam. Qualified in IT and Accounting, he has also spent time running an Advertising agency and as a Cavalry Officer with the Australian Army Reserve.
To read more Brendan Lewis blogs, click here.