Thinking about Processes


Many people don’t really think about the process they use, but why process planning is important:

  • You want to make products that satisfy customer demand;
  • The products must, in some way, be better than competitors;
  • The process makes the products;
  • To make better products you need a better process.

You can make most products by a number of different processes. If you make tables, you can use craftspeople to build them carefully by hand; you can buy parts and use semi-skilled people to assemble them; you can use automatic equipment on an assembly line; or you can mould complete tables from plastic. Each process gives a product with different characteristics. Process planning designs the best process for delivering any particular product.

It’s especially important to design the process for services, as you can’t really draw a line between the product and the process used to make it. How, for example, can you separate the service given by a bank, theatre or taxi from process used to deliver it?

There’s a huge variety of processes. It is easy to design a process for baking a cake; but if you want to bake 100 cakes for a garden party you will use a different process; and if you want to bake a million cakes every week, the best process is different again. Unfortunately, many managers don’t take their processes seriously, and can hardly describe them in coherent terms.

You can start thinking seriously about your processes by recognizing them and describing the details of each. Make everyone in the organization aware of the processes and their importance. Then you can see how well the processes are working and look for improvements. Your processes are at the heart of your organization, and you really should give them the attention they deserve. Emphasize your processes, which consist of all the operations needed to make your products.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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The Era of Fragmentation


Driven by a combination of capital-intensive new technologies, newly emerged mass markets, and global trade based on national competitive advantage, in industrial era production was organized around the idea of division of labor instead of craft specialization. The work formerly done by one artisan was broken down into its component parts, which in turn were mechanized where possible, and semi-skilled workers were hired to do part of the job or to tend the machines. New roles, those of supervisor, middle manager, and production planner, were created to provide the oversight and coordination that were formerly the responsibility of individual journeymen or masters. In brief, authority over the content of jobs was given to people who, themselves, were not actually doing this work. The newly created managerial authority took “from workers the right to define their own job, their own skill level, and their own standards of quality.”

The division of labor, originally intended to create a rapid growth economy based on a low-skill work force, did help assimilate nineteenth century agricultural workers into industry. But once there, it imprisoned them.

Division of labor is an addictive practice. Work breakdown—promoted by those whose authority and careers tend to benefit from it—tends to beget more work breakdown, taking the pressure off the employer or the educational system to continually upgrade employee skills. Once started, the practice tends to be self-reinforcing, producing a de-skilled work force.

By the mid-twentieth century, most corporate organizations were based on the concept of functional specialization. Work that was once whole had become fragmented. The focused skill of an individual was diffused into the skill of an entire factory. The common view was that mechanics check their brains at the gate when they come to work.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight