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SPIF Tip #8: Why Should You Consider Process Improvement?

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tip8Don’t use process

improvement methods just because they are supported by academics. Although process methods grew out of applied statistical theories, some academics understand process improvement and some do not. Indeed, many B-school teachings, especially in finance, actually undermine process excellence. Nor should you apply process improvement because it enhances quality, or works for other companies. Instead, a business should use approaches that maximize value for its customers and owners. Use process excellence because it will help your business develop individualized solutions to unique, local problems.

 When properly implemented, process methods don’t get people to think about processes. Instead, they get people to think more deeply about what they are doing, what they’re working on, which resources they’re using, how they are spending their time, which data and evidence are driving their actions, and how their work benefits their internal and external customers. They become more aware of ways to increase value for those customers, and ways to make more money now and in the future.

Process improvement provides flexible, practical concepts, tools, and methods for solving problems and improving business processes. Yet more than that, it is a way of leading and managing the entire organization based on deep respect for data, evidence, facts, and people, whether they are prospects, customers, employees, distributors, or shareholders. It is more effective and more flexible than the command and control style of management — indeed, it is the opposite of command and control — and is thus ideally suited to the fluid world of sales and marketing in today’s environment.

Action Item:

Take the time you need to define the problems you are trying to solve. Work with your team to gather evidence, data, and look for root causes. Process improvement is about identifying reality first hand, with your people. As soon as it becomes about reinforcing what you or someone else already thinks, you’re on the wrong track.

From: Sales Process Excellence, by Michael J Webb, Introduction page xv

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