Growing Your Processes

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like process definition and deployment. The outcomes may be things like everyone knowing how to do their job better, how to work together better, and how to close gaps that often occur from an incomplete understanding of the things done in the organization. We hope to see more efficiency, fewer defects, and lower cost of quality.

The prerequisites for processes may be cultural readiness, such as overcoming resistance to change, getting better understanding of process benefits, and getting senior management commitment. However, there are things outside of your control, such as reorganizations, new and competing projects, how people will react and respond to change, and availability of resources.

Maintaining the process growth effort will require understanding the work people actually do. Edwards Deming used to say, “If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you're doing.”

You will also need to help people describe their work in simple and understandable ways. For example, one tendency is to try to accommodate all possible situations in a single process. This makes the process too large and cumbersome.

Dealing with distractions is another maintenance task. Daily work duties can easily derail the task at hand. These are the weeds that can choke out processes.

Whether you are defining and deploying work processes, trying to make test automation a reality, or trying to establish some core metrics, you can grow in a planned, organic way. As the leader, your job is to communicate the vision (planting the seeds) and create an environment (keeping the garden maintained). You often have to adapt and adjust, but that’s where the learning happens.

Compared to the high-risk approach of large programs that introduce too much change at one time by transplanting ideas, the planned organic approach is a more natural way to let ideas take root and grow in a low-risk, yet controlled way.

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