I recently received flack for a comment that I made in response to the question “where should a small organization with limited resources begin when it comes to process improvement?”
My comment was not to overthink this. In fact, specifically I said “forget about assessments and process maturity, just get out there and improve things one at a time.”
Apparently this goes against common sense. I was told that you always have to begin with a formal assessment. Always.
This is a small organization with limited resources for Pete’s sake! The last thing they need is to launch an over-bloated improvement project that will never get off the ground, or invest in some three-week exercise to figure out where to start!
In the example given, there are only a few people roaming the halls trying to provide support, and they are already outnumbered and overburdened. If they don’t already know what needs improving, they all should be fired! In fact, regarding measurement, if management doesn’t have a clue about what “better” looks like, they should be fired too!
Could they benefit from professional advice or guidance on how and where to begin? Likely they could, thus the initial question. My advice was to either follow a project through the organization, or, when the next call comes in from a customer, actually listen to them and use that conversation as a catalyst, then work backwards from there. All of their processes could likely be improved. Making just one exactly perfect likely isn't going to provide much value, but lightly touching each one would provide an aggregate result in terms of measurable service improvement.
I can go toe to toe with many framework and methodology experts and cite their bibles chapter and verse, so don’t get me started about theory. This situation required practical experience generating actual results with minimal investment to generate quick wins, and the negative response to my practical advice is exactly why more organizations are not winning.