We speak with many clients who are undertaking significant process initiatives like improving IT infrastructure, increasing product quality, or reducing costs. All worthy causes and deserving of attention, but companies often forget that even the best initiative in the world requires people and teams to execute them effectively. In fact, the amount of focus on process vs. people often pre-determines a probability of failure before the initiative even starts!
Let’s take a cost cutting initiative. Your company would probably start by assembling a team to champion the process. Ok, so we’re only at step one and we’re already looking at people as a key step. What should this team look like? What attributes should they have, and how well will they work together. A strong foundation of complimentary team behaviors and dynamics will make a huge difference to the outcome of any initiative.
Perhaps one of the process steps is working with vendors to negotiate better prices or terms: Who on the team is the most diplomatic? Who has the most suitable behaviors to be disciplined and resolute, but have empathy towards the big picture? You certainly don’t want to assign this task to the hard-nosed sales person as you may end up with no vendors at all!
Somewhere along the way, you will probably need to roll out parts of your new processes to the other teams in the organization. There might be big changes in the way that things have been traditionally executed: Which teams will be supporters of the change, and which will push back if they don’t know the reasoning behind it? Which managers are up to the challenge of helping to advocate the new processes and which might try to subvert it?
As you can see, every step of the way people and process are intricately tied together, and every step can either be enhanced or endangered by not understanding what the human impact is going to be. For this reason, we always advocate that behavioral analysis should be a key part of any major process initiative, regardless of how nuts-and-bolts it might seem to be!
If you’re looking for help, reach out to us or check out our partner pages for consultants that also believe in the marriage of process and people.