Blog post

Flow Killers or Outcome Killers?

By Bruce Robertson | December 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

I recently ran across an interesting Change the work. Work the change advertisement campaign by Xerox that discussed process from the perspective of fixing “Three Flow Killers” (you can download their PDF with details from the link above).  These killers are (quoting):

  • Friction: Inefficiency caused by poor process design or communication dynamics.
  • Noise: Information overload and the resulting ‘data blindness’.
  • Drag: Getting held back from doing the things you’re best at.

This is a worthy take on what often needs fixing in existing business processes, and Xerox has some identified a number of key practices that help resolve these issues.

I’ll even add a few things to their solution ideas that can further assure beneficial process outcomes:

  1. Make sure you find the right people for the job/task — too often we have poorly matched work to worker and we need more effort to support individual performance improvement while maintaining engagement (ie, perhaps unlike Amazon’s reportedly “bruising workplace“).
  2. Make sure you consider a very wide array of automation or digitalization solutions for moving work from humans to machines — not just process technology ones like iBPMSs or any traditional IT system.
  3. Make sure you leave the humans doing the right work for humans to do — the human touch (whatever that means for your business).
  4. Make sure you leave room for human decision making and action where it should be highlighted to go beyond standardization — what is automated or just scripted — to enable exceptions when they should be provided.

All of this is really a reminder that you must be careful not to “automate the human out of the system” if that system still needs human capabilities.

At Gartner, our research is looking at both of these aspects — flow killers and outcome killers.  An earlier blog post also touched on some of the new digital capabilities to consider for flow and value improvements: Process Digitalization: Just More Automation?  You will see us focused on both process and people aspects that impact business operations.

What are you seeing as the key killers to flow or value?  How are you keeping the human touch at right level?


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