Taking control: Process Management for Everyone, Everyday, Everywhere
Author: Barry Byrne
A tutor’s view of Process Management for Managers
In this interview Director Consultant, Barry Byrne, talks about his experiences of leading process management programmes for our clients and more recently, leading our ‘Process Management for Managers‘ course as part of our public schedule.
Barry, you have been delivering process management courses for PMI for almost 11 years, what successes have you seen during that time?
I have found that significant, long-lasting success comes from working with many delegates from a variety of functions across an organisation, building a critical mass of keen, insightful, competent practitioners of process management and improvement.
Without exception, the focus on cross-functional interfaces and boundaries serves an organisation well in its improvement journey in both short and long term.
Most critically, the realisation that success comes from gaining the support and involvement of all of the people (not just the Senior Executives and Improvement Experts). This course provides the means to enable people working at every level, to meet that challenge.
What is the benefit of doing this course over other more project based ones, such as Green Belt?
Delegates very quickly see the relevance and appropriateness of their work in the context of the overall drive for continuous improvement. They acquire skills, knowledge and competence that aligns and compliments other improvement specialists, like their Green and Black Belt counterparts.
This means that they can play an active part in supporting more radical, step change improvement, backed up with the context, framework and, almost certainly, the data to enable the delivery of a successful project outcome. After all, who knows better than them how their work works?
Is ‘Process Management for Managers’ beneficial for those people who do not work in improvement?
Absolutely. The course is both practical and pragmatic – focusing on what people do every day and what they can do to make it even better.
There is a good balance of theory and practice where we look at the delegate’s own work processes which makes it hugely relevant to what they do every day.
This means that delegates don’t require any prior knowledge or experience of improvement to benefit from this course. The only experience they need is the knowledge and insight of their own work processes.
At PMI we believe that everyone, regardless of their role in an organisation, hierarchy, function, department or sector, has two responsibilities; ‘Run my processes’ and ‘improve my processes.
Quite often people feel that they are plate spinning and that ‘something’ has to change. How can this course help?
This course focuses on the everyday work that needs to be done in order to meet our customer’s expectations.
It gives people the opportunity to take control of their processes, to deliver consistent and predictable levels of performance and, once seized, to maintain these gains and continually work to improve them.
And that means no more ‘plate spinning’!.
What do you enjoy about leading this course?
The transformation in the person from Day 1 to Day 6 is, in my view, profound.
Creating the environment that enables this transformation to take place has to be the most enjoyable and worthwhile aspect of leading the course. I have the same sense when delivering other courses, for instance, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt.
Process Management for Managers is, however, quite unique. It affects the majority of working people, it respects and addresses the issues, challenges, frustrations and concerns that they have and experience almost daily.
It makes the best use of peoples’ talent and truly empowers them to run and improve their processes on a day to day basis.
Have you witnessed any ‘light bulb’ during the course?
Prior to the course, delegates often set expectations that they will learn ‘new tools & techniques that I can apply back at the workplace’.
Whilst this is very true, they quickly appreciate that it needs more than just tools and techniques. We find that it is the need to engage, involve and listen to the people working in and around the process that hits home most forcibly.
From as early as day 1, delegates are struck that success is built on a set of principles and methodology. Knowing and understanding this enables the successful application of the learning, not least the tools and techniques.
Our focus on Stakeholder Management helps delegates reflect on and plan for the changes that they will effect. I think that this is the aspect of the course that delegates least expect at the start but value most in the end!
What do you observe delegates really enjoying about the course?
It’s obvious that the delegates hugely appreciate the realisation that they are not alone in the frustrations and problems they experience in their day job. They see that these challenges are common with their peers across many different sectors and functions.
I know that they enjoy having the discussions that bring about the deeper insights of how it really is, or at least how they perceive it.
We explore these issues during the 6 days and identify and practice ways of dealing with them. Delegates are significantly better equipped to deal with this afterwards.
Delegates also see that the principles, methods and tools and techniques do indeed work – this comes out of a variety of practical exercises, many ranged around a simulated process that delegates tell me that they enjoy.
This, coupled with focused application in the workplace enables pretty rapid improvement in many cases. They certainly tell me that they enjoy seeing that!
And finally, once the course has finished, what difference in working styles would you expect to see from delegates?
I’ve seen that delegates very quickly demonstrate the application of the thinking and method to their own work processes. They will be using the tools and techniques taught such as SIPOC, flow charts, control charts and the ‘quick wins’ exercise.
But actually, it’s the changes that are not immediately obvious that are the most interesting.
People not only work differently after this course but they think differently too. People will tell me that;.
‘I now know that I work in a network of interdependent processes, that my Customer is the next process downstream and not just the ‘end user’ but, fundamentally, I need to engage and collaborate with others if I am to deliver a successful and sustained improvement in how I work’.
This positive change is remarked upon by people at other levels within the organisation, particularly in terms of the positive, motivational influence that this new behaviour has.
Barry delivers lean, six sigma, business improvement, consultancy and training to clients all over the globe. Clients benefit from his extensive experience in developing leadership capabilities and facilitating improvement initiatives on a global scale. As a mentor and coach, Barry defines his style as supportive and motivational.
If you have any questions for Barry, please do get in touch.