Procedures can be formal or informal, simple or complex but whichever you use they are there to minimise the guesswork and irregularity in the business. The format of which should be standard throughout the company as far as possible (there are many templates on the web to build from), they should also be effective and efficient! I have worked with companies that are overburdened with procedures and those that literally rely on the information and experience of individuals.
Overburdensome procedures take away the ability to move quickly, to adapt to change before competitors. This scenario is usually found in larger organisations (& Government) and colloquially called “bureaucracy”.
Whereas a lack of documented procedures can often facilitate a faster response, the problem that lies herein is that the improvements and changes are again not documented. Thus there is confusion over the “correct” procedure to follow. Plus, as is often the case without procedures, results and KPIs are not accurate and may even be guesses, if they are presented at all.
Either way, change is required with benefits found in both scenarios. Redesigning procedures can be seen as being easier due to the fact that they have already been written and only need “tweaking”, while in other situations documenting procedures from scratch can also be seen as being easier as there is a clean slate to work with.
The issue here is often not the need to redesign or design procedures; it is the perception of change. There are companies that state they are looking for change, to make the improvements they know they need to take their company to the next level. I just wonder how many people have found a company’s statements on change are not always congruent with their actions.
Some companies I have worked with see change as part of their business, continual improvement itself being a process that happens everyday. These are the companies that have realised change can bring a level of uncertainty or a period of moving backwards before improvement (but careful planning and testing will reduce any negative effect). Yet there are others that talk about change but can only manage partial implementation, sometimes abandoning improvements that have been made. I have found there is also a correlation to particular industries as well.
I would welcome comments on companies that have good procedures and how they design/change them.
Next instalment – Failure to change