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Process—"A series of actions, operations, or changes lead­ing to an end," Webster. An organization that is pursu­ing business excellence must have a clear understanding of its essential business processes and how they interre­late. These processes must cross functional boundaries, be clearly mapped and defined with inputs, outputs, and measurements, and add value for the customer. Their design must be flexible enough to permit managing change within the organization and firm enough to pro­vide sufficient structure. The organization must encour­age process thinking and avoid imposing organizational boundaries upon processes. By removing organizational boundaries, individuals are aligned horizontally across functions instead of vertically within functions. This breaks down communication barriers and removes the non-value-added activities inherent in organizations that operate functionally.

Process Owner—For a process to remain effective, it must have an owner. Though it will take interaction among a group of people to perform the process, the owner is responsible for the quality of the process and maintaining it to reflect current business requirements. The owner will measure the process to confirm its qual­ity. The results of this measurement are a reflection on the process, not on the owner or the people who per­form the process. This is a critical concept to enforce. If people perceive they are personally being measured, they will do everything they can to make the measurement become a positive reflection on them. If they see that the process is the focus of the measurement, they will work hard to deal with honest data, draw honest con­clusions, and get lasting results.

Improvement Leader—When engaged in a major project for implementing business excellence, subteams are formed to define the current process and develop major improvements or even replacement. The leader of this team, which may or may not be the process owner, is the improvement leader for the subject process. The improvement leader is responsible for defining tasks, delegating those tasks to the team, and verifying their completion. Once the new process has been imple­mented, the improvement leader will disband the team and hand off the process to the process owner.

Well-defined processes enable ordinary people to gen­erate extraordinary results. Poorly defined processes will result in extraordinary people generating ordinary re­sults.

To Be Continued

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