Turtles and Quality Culture OR Processes as the Skeleton of Quality Culture …
Quality and Culture need a Ground to grow
Taylorism with a very detailed level of tasks might sometimes be the best way to break down processes to single tasks. But not all processes you need to manage are so foreseeable as they should be in production. Therefore for those higher level processes a definition, which is more high level, should be enough. But it needs to provide a clear and defined framework within which the process can be executed. But Taylor’s intention was process control (or originally task management) with focus on production processes not on management processes.
But what does it mean in reality. People create huge databases painting down business processes. With a really huge customer I tried to design a management system to be ready for the technical implementation – a really huge number of people in a lot of countries.
Its starting point was a good set of documented processes but they were not known to anybody. A typical problem in huge companies. Processes are only as good as they were known – and optimally also followed by the people.
So what are Processes for?
Let’s get back to the roots, i. e. the definition of a process:
According ISO 9001 a process is a set of interrelated or interacting activities which transforms inputs into outputs. But it should create value and be done under controlled conditions as it is mentioned in the notes to the definition.
Nothing more! Sounds simple! Or not?
But what does this mean now?
You need clear processes. Transparency is a basic need for a culture to grow.
The way you document processes depends on the organization although some basic aspects should be considered. Here one simple way which is often pushed is the SIPOC or turtle diagram. So we need to be clear what is to be addressed to reach the maximum effect.
Documented processes support knowledge management and education.
Good documentation and mature processes are again the outcome of continual improvement, taking the chance for change, challenging the current status quo, professionalization. So processes grow from a pure supporting character of the organization to an enabling factor, from a reactive to a preventive way of thinking. Documentation also defines tools, methods, and procedures but also what to do in case of risks, for example with mitigating actions.
RACI and Interfaces
Important are clear responsibilities like given through a RACI methodology (R = responsible, A = accountable, C = contributing, I = informed).
Process manager: the R, people taking care on a day-to-day basis and repeating the credo of top management for e.g. quality culture.
You need a process owner (or however you call it within your organization) as an A. Someone accountable, top management, the one with commitment.
Interfaced processes: the I, people informed by the process and its outputs.
Preceding processes: the C, the ones from which we get information which is needed to live the process.
I and C are not restricted to your organization but can also be part of the context of your organization. That means that you need to have clear interfaces also to and from the outside. You need to know what information you have to get from outside your organization to be able to use this information and to follow external rules like satisfying legal requirements.
Information and Measuring
Information – data, data integrity is important as you should make risk- and knowledge-based decisions.
And the information again is needed to measure processes. Another basic aspect of process management which is needed to have a (quality) management system.
If you do not know your process you cannot improve it. You will keep only guessing.
Why are Processes so important for Quality Culture or vice versa?
Forming– Storming – Norming – Performing you know from group dynamics. It is a part of team building as quality culture is a team activity. One alone cannot change the world. But the one is important as single persons start to form a structure and find more and more collaborators which get to a common sense about what they are doing and bringing to performance.
The processes build a network of information exchange all over the organization.
Build the quality management system on your processes.
Empower people to shape the processes.
Be open for change but do not forget to check the impact on planned changes.
Start on every subject which makes sense, try to get fellow campaigners.
Don’t be shirty if you do not succeed the first time. Some things – or even a lot need iterations. People get more and more aware about that fact when adopting agile practices. A lot is try and error as you cannot foresee each and every problem.
And now you can take the next step: continual improvement as without specified processes it is hard to define a change.