Principles for Process Design

And now we’re going to look at 10 principles for process design. So when the improvement team come together to start to look at improvements, they should bear these principles in mind when considering the solutions. The first principle is that we should enable the customer to drive the process. So this is a principle of self service, through web portals and so on, that the customer can see how the process is progressing for them and that they feel that they’re in charge of the process. Secondly, we should serve the customer and not the process. And this of course, is called the voice of the customer in the lean terminology, and as we’ve seen throughout this course, so far, we’re aiming to maximize customer value in the process, not work to the benefit of the organization and its different departments. Thirdly, we should aim to do the work close to the customer and minimize handoffs between teams because handoffs are are notorious source of errors and delays. And therefore the less handoffs between teams that we have, the less errors we’re likely to have. Fourthly, we should enable the customer to understand where they are on the journey. And this is about providing process visibility, which again, is kind of web access. It’s like tracking deliveries, for example, but also web access to see where your request your order is within the company. Physically, we should provide escape routes for non standard work or for work that requires additional attention. And that is because we don’t want it to hold up the flow of the kind of standard work that the process is doing. So a separate team might work on more complex items of work. The sixth principle for process design is that we should build quality assurance into the process and check work at the correct points. Not duplicate checks and not have an excessive inspection. So inspection checks, they all add complication to a process, we need to build quality into the process and have the checks at the correct points. Secondly, we should allow flexibility to meet peaks and troughs across processes. And this is about multi skilling the team so that they can move between different processes. According to the peaks and troughs of customer demand. Eight we should directly integrate data between systems because rekeying of data is another serious cause of errors and also of delays. Nine we should share common process steps between processes. And this is partly so that staff that move between processes are familiar with the process steps and it means that we get much more efficient at carrying out the process steps and finally number 10. We should separate Write out steps that can be completed offline. So as again, not to interrupt the flow of work to the customer. And this might be steps such as preparing management reports, audit checks, and so on. In summary, therefore, the Four Laws of improvement that we’ve talked about so far, the first law is that many small changes in the process add up to large improvements at the top level. The second law was that people in the process, best place to improve it. Third Law of improvement is that the effect of blame is to push mistakes on the ground. And the fourth law of improvement is that we should always focus on the customer and eliminate work that doesn’t benefit the customer. And these are the basic principles of successful improvement in an organization. It’s not about methods. It’s not about specific tools. It’s about people working together based on that These four principles. And if we apply these in our organizations, then the improvements do start to add up. For example, in one school in the United States, children were taught to think of their weaknesses, not as embarrassing, but as opportunities to learn. They became more inquisitive, more resilient, and they also performed better in their schoolwork. And in business, the most significant improvements in performance, come not from buying new kit, new it, etc. But from studying our business processes in detail. And in proving each component by a small amount, which adds up at the top level. We must be able to learn from our mistakes, errors and constraints and work together to eliminate them. Another example is the Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle, and they’re not very flattering picture there of it. Here staff were encouraged to file reports. If If anything went wrong with their work or if they made mistakes, and blame was not attached to these problems and mistakes, instead, an improvement team would be formed and would examine what it was about the process that allowed the mistake to arise. And then these problems with the process would be improved. So many small changes were made, changes to drug labeling, use of color coding and symbols, checklists and operating theatres, ergonomic changes and so on. And similar practices have been carried out in hospitals throughout the world, particularly here in the UK. Although each improvement itself seems small, they rapidly accumulated and since this approach has been taken, Virginia Mason hospital has seen a 74% reduction in liability insurance premiums and is now regarded as one of the safest hospitals in the world. So we finished the section of the course. With a quote from Matthew Syed, and his book blackbox thinking from 2015 blame is pervasive in the modern political, cultural, and corporate world. And what the effect of blame is, is to push all of the information about mistakes deep underground. Unless we’re prepared to have open and honest cultures, where people are not blamed for honest mistakes. That information will never be surfaced, enabling learning to take place.