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Who Before What

by Matthew J. Ferguson

In many organizations, process comes before people, and function over feasibility. No wonder people resist. And all the change management in the world won’t help if the stakeholder community lacks the skills to execute a new process. Here is guidance on putting people at the forefront of your process design efforts.

Designing a new process invigorates an organization with the promise of something new, something that will fix a vexing problem and some new ‘way of doing things’ that will make the employees gush with gratitude. Unfortunately, the process becomes the jewel in the crown as the people get left behind.

Process design can fall flat on its face when sponsors forget two very important principles:

  • First, the ‘want’ has to be clearly distinguished from the ‘need.’
  • Second, one needs to evaluate what employee/stakeholder capabilities are required and what employee-centric benefits can be derived. In other words, what about the people?

Buyer’s remorse in action

Let’s take the example of my friend Rob who spends four hours a day commuting. To help make his drive more pleasurable, Rob bought his first luxury vehicle with all the bells and whistles: heating/cooling seats, touch-screen navigation, voice-activated climate control, satellite radio, wireless connectivity, heads-up display, self-parking, run-flat tires and even an environmentally friendly, DVD-based owner’s manual. Despite all this, Rob hated it.

Prior to this purchase, Rob drove a practical vehicle that got him to and from work with an AM/FM radio. When he bought the luxury car, he was convinced he needed the added functionality. However, once he departed the dealer ‘safe-zone,’ he was completely lost. Rob was overwhelmed and frustrated with all the new technology. The hype ended and reality set in.

Eventually, Rob became accustomed to all of the “benefits” of the new technology. Yet he still only uses 50 percent of the functionality and, at times, still misses the days when he drove a car, which was simpler and easier to use. In short, what started out as an investment with defined returns became a headache with buyer’s remorse.

Fundamentally, this same dynamic is at work when you fail to put people as the centerpiece of your process design efforts.

Read the full article at “Projects at Work”

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