Everything is fine … and the 3Ps can help make it better
By: Mark Robinson
We’ve all heard, and we’ve all probably said at some stage, concerning the state of our processes, “everything is fine”. This may have been followed up with “our processes are working well, they don’t need to be improved. We carried out a review a few months ago, and we meet sector best practice”. Or words to that effect.
While this can be the case, many times I find the speaker is not able to confidently say so for they do not have the level of familiarity with all the ins and outs of organisational processes. I understand why, it is not their role to know all of the fine details.
So, how do we deal with this situation? We call on the 3P’s.
Regardless of the sector in which we work, e.g. charity, higher education, law, and public services, and regardless of where e.g. Australia, Ghana, Ireland, the UK, the USA, the 3 P’s always feature.
The first P is ‘People’, organisations do not function without people. The second P is ‘Process’ – wherever you get people, you get process, otherwise how will the people interact and how will the organisation deliver its services or produce its goods?
When people and process, when organisations, get comfortable, and perhaps even before, we arrive at the third P, ‘Potential’, i.e. the potential for improvement, of process in particular and by extension, of people and their understanding of processes and how to improve them, in a structured rather than an ad hoc way.
I always have the 3P’s at the ready and introduce them into the conversation when needed. I’m particularly interested in the third P, Potential. I’m constantly thinking how I can help you, your staff, your organisation, to realise your potential.
One way is to get you thinking that realising potential is the default position. This is where our ‘Wall of No Excuses’ comes into play.
But first, lets’ look at our ‘Wall of Excuses’. You’ll know when you start hearing the likes of ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, ‘This isn’t the right time’, and ‘It’s too risky’, you should be having doubts about the desire of the speaker to change, and their degree commitment to the Lean fundamentals of continuous improvement and respect for people.
I’ll confess here and now, I have made many excuses in my pre-Lean working life. While I expect I hoped the excuses were ‘good’ if unsubstantiated reasons for batting away irksome change, I did not at the time realise I was closing myself to opportunities to learn, to grow, to help my organisation improve. I did not see I was dis-empowering myself and reducing the resilience of my employer. I needed a good dose of Lean.
Back to the excuses, we immediately move to the flip side and are thinking of our ‘Wall of No Excuses’. Instead of accepting ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, we’re moving the discussion on to ‘It ain’t broke, but we can improve it’, rather than ‘this isn’t the right time’, we’re looking to hear ‘It’s time to change’, and when we hear ‘It’s too risky’, we prefer to hear ‘we can manage the risk’. Excuses are not helpful, and they are not empowering, they are not conducive to continuous improvement and show no respect for people.
To end on a positive note, the 3Ps help move conversations and mindsets from ‘can’t do’ to ‘can do’.
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