Getting brilliant results

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

An old saying by Japanese quality experts goes something like this: "We get brilliant results from average people managing brilliant processes while our competitors get average results from brilliant people managing broken processes." Brilliant process management is part art and part science-results cannot always be certain and outcomes vary from provider to provider. Nonetheless, when certain process traits are built in to daily workflow, improvement gains will be more likely to occur. Given the fact that the typical HME provider has an average of 12 separate processes to manage and nearly half of their total costs are tied to paying people to perform tasks within these processes, it makes sense for providers to examine the characteristics of a brilliant process. Here are four of the most common traits associated with brilliant processes:
Workflow Knowledge
People working within brilliant processes share a common, yet powerful, trait: They possess a deep understanding of how work moves through the process. All employees, regardless of job function, must understand how their role impacts the next step or next process in the value chain, as well as the lifeblood of the business-cash flow. This type of cross-functional knowledge is also referred to as systems thinking.
Expert Waste Identifiers
Not all waste can be eliminated from all processes. But brilliant process management involves having employees that are capable of identifying and eliminating unnecessary non-value added activities. This usually means that they are able to "see," understand and visualize the process in a way that fosters the level of understanding required to spot and eliminate the non-value added parts of the process.
Standardized Work Practices
Standardized work practices define how a task should be performed and they identify the most efficient way the tasks should be completed. Whenever more than one person performs the same task, they will usually come up with their own method of completing the work when standardized work practices are not present. Different people doing the same task without standardized work practices will yield inconsistent results every time. Standard work practices also define how employees prioritize their work and when the work or task should be sent on to the next process step.
Highly Active Teams
Brilliant processes have effective leadership built in and readily available to help staff overcome obstacles to meeting the needs of both internal and external customers. Consistent and regular supervisory interaction with staff helps to ensure that processes and work practices are being followed. Close leadership interaction with staff also helps to make sure problems are being discovered and acted on in a timely manner.
Providers that understand these general concepts will achieve more consistent results. Leading, teaching, problem-solving and incorporating standardized work practices are priorities for businesses that achieve brilliant process management. HME