A business is essentially a machine - a very complex machine granted, but a machine nevertheless. It exists to convert supplies into deliveries, demands into services.
Like any machine it has processes, patterns of activity, that work together to transform the inputs into outputs. And like its more mechanical counterparts its efficiency derives from the design and predictability of those processes.
Many thinking, planning, and analysis tools are available to support engineers in their work to design and refine the machines they work on, but these are often overlooked by those who are responsible for the development and improvement of their business.

Ensure all the processes which effect performance are responsibly developed and designed, using methods which aid collective
involvement and disciplined thinking.

The concept of 'Process' is about making the design and development of business a common feature of the management task and about equipping them with the tools to do it effectively.

Like machines, the way companies undertake certain tasks, and the resulting effectiveness and efficiency with which they
achieve them, is a function of:
... the mechanisms they employ
... how those mechanisms interact
... the way the whole thing is put together.
In machine design, the quality and efficiency of the output is a competitive issue - the pressure to think through the design objectively, to understand the competition, and to effectively cope with very complex relationships has led to the development of some very sophisticated and advanced tools.
However those same tools are little in evidence in companies reconsidering their operations.
Managers often claim that the situation is too complex and uncertain, although at long last businesses are beginning to see that they are an amalgam of business processes - the basic building blocks for business design.
Ironically, however, when companies resort to consultancies to assist with organisational or process redesign, the consultants often embrace the very disciplines and concepts that the business mangers shun.
With the design life of a business process shortening as change increases, it can neither be economic or practical to pay for external agencies to grow familiar with your business every time a change is required. The risk then is either that processes continue past the point when competitive advantage could be gained by that redesign, or that process redesign occurs inefficiently due to a poorer approach for undertaking it.
Management will have to develop the skills for reviewing, analysing, and redesigning processes. Through this it can ensure the business remains competitively tuned to its purpose and philosophy, harmonising and supporting its people in their best work. It can create a clear basis for becoming a learning organisation.
When were your business processes last redesigned, and what methods were used to do it? Can you be sure that there wouldn't be significant business benefit in developing, redesigning or even redefining them now.
Some companies have clearly got their business processes in tune, and are now looking at the processes by which these basic processes are further developed and refined.
The business is a complex machine, but in that complexity lies the real opportunity to constantly build and refine your competitive edge. Are you undertaking this refining in the most competitive way?

To understand more about 'Process':
 Exploration provides an understanding of the principles that underpin this aspect of the management process
 Evaluation provides a simple scale by which you might reflect on your own organisation's progress in this area
 Tools provides a brief overview of some of the approaches that are available to support further development

Move on to 'Predict'; Return to 'Systematic Management'


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