out from customers/prospects what they want. Ask them before they
tell you what they don't like, or worse yet, take their business
elsewhere. This is mysterious and frightening to many internal
employees who wouldn't know a customer if they were bitten by one.
Take employees out to meet customers, or customers in to meet
employees. Have them talk on the phone, exchange views. It usually
improves both sides, and forms valuable bonds. Involve customers
early in the process to build "ownership," and to avoid
out what your successful competitors are doing and see if it makes
sense. Don't slavishly copy it—leapfrog it. There may now be
better ideas or new technologies that you could use. Try looking at
how companies in other industries solve analogous problems. For
example, an aircraft parts supplier made great improvements by first
studying LL Bean, the renown outdoor goods supplier.
yet, think of something nobody has thought of yet. Overnight air
delivery of packages, disposable razors, and eyeglasses in one hour,
were all breakthrough ideas that made fortunes and thrilled
Do this before you
do your expensive BPR program without sufficient improvement
5. Achieve continuous, rapid
improvement— gradual improvements may not suffice
Japanese Kaizen, or continuous improvement philosophy, is
an extremely powerful concept, and it has taken them, and others who
practice it effectively, a long way. But, if you're ten years
behind, Kaizen won't even maintain the same gap. Stronger
medicine is needed. Business Process Reengineering can be such a
tonic, to allow huge leaps forward, and can be used in conjunction
with Kaizen. Even if you're not ten years behind, maybe BPR
can be a way to get ten years ahead.
could one suddenly leapfrog another company to become more
successful? ... by making accelerator pedals instead of buggy whips.
By doing something not just better, but truly different.
6. Challenge existing
out with an assumption in the back of your mind that the old way can
be improved enormously—the odds are with you. Allow yourself to be
proven wrong in some areas, but don't count on it. This forces more
critical thinking. Compare the results of the current process to
your ideal mission statement and note the differences. Then
brainstorm how it can be improved significantly.
hard to get people to challenge existing approaches, unless you:
Remove possible threats to them for doing so. This can best be
done by demonstrating that company people can do it and survive.
Ensure that people are rewarded, not punished for making
improvements. One company encountered was in the habit of laying
off team members after improvements were made. A real motivator.
Expose teams to alternative models for doingbusiness. This can be
accomplished through education, site visits, reading,
participation in professional societies, and group discussions.
Assign leadership or lead the charge yourself—set the example by
challenging the status quo and soliciting better ideas. Encourage
others to do this as well.
7. Use benchmarking,
get ideas from other industries
to be totally original in your thinking. Find out what "best
practices" are in your and other industries with transferable
concepts. Possibly even collaborate with other companies in
developing better processes (void where prohibited by law).
product/process relationships, avoid functional "silos"
Try to disregard the
existing organization structure when developing the ideal process.
Look at the objectives that need to be accomplished, the processes
that are needed to support it, and finally, at the resources
(including organization) needed to accomplish them.