Profitability or Stagnation? Efficiencies or Deficiencies? Part 3 of 3

Part 1 of this article provides a short self- assessment online that any BPM practitioner, company employee or manager, or groups of employees can take. It only takes 5 minutes. And you get your results back compared to the full database.

Part 2 uses the self- assessment to identify where your organization is in building execution capability (Beginning, Middle, or Advancing Process). Then it relates your company answers to the McKinsey 7S elements, and shows you how to evaluate the elements to build a more productive organization.

This final part, Part 3, looks at the last three elements in the 7S Model and then discusses how to build a company roadmap for your organization. Each of the questions in the survey is related by number to one of the 7S categories; then examples are given about the category and how it impacts execution.

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  1. Have you tried to make improvements in the company but have not seen the results you wanted?
  2. Do you have customer complaints that are hard to resolve?
  3. Does work involve more paper documents and complexity than necessary?
  4. Have external regulations been incorporated into the work processes so they are smooth and easy to satisfy?
  5. Are handoffs between employees and groups frequently the source of errors, confusion, or friction?
  6. Can new employees quickly perform their primary tasks, as the company prefers them to be performed?
  7. Are you able to incorporate consistent processes as you grow both globally and into new regions?

Questions 4-10 are all about Systems, or the formal processes and procedures to manage the organization. Examples are performance measures, reward systems, resource allocation, information systems, data systems, etc.

Question 5 asks the about customer and the feedback data they provide. Are you capturing that data? What does it tell you? Do you have customer complaints that don’t seem to get resolved quickly and easily? This may be because customer complaints need to be resolved in several BUs and functions, and the company is not set up to accommodate this. I worked with one organization that had 412 backlogged customer issues. We developed a new method of high response customer service and issue resolution and got the backlog down to 0 in three months. The point is that the old way of handling customer issues just wasn’t working because those issues got lost and delayed between different vertical siloed units.

Questions 6, 7, and 8 cover some of the challenges that get in the way of streamlined work – too much paperwork, departmental or individual shadow systems on desktops (such as desktop Microsoft Excel files), numerous employee roles, and handoffs between groups. These issues cause waiting and misunderstandings. If your company is able to reduce this complexity, the process would move faster and have fewer errors.

Regulations are necessary constraints, whether you like it or not. Are the regulations in your company an add-on to the work? If you could build regulation controls into the regular work processes, and minimize their delays and waste, the result would yield the faster throughput and the accuracy needed. Regulations need to be part of efficient ongoing work and not just a “pain in the neck” that slows things down.

Questions 9 and 10 ask about company growth (a good thing!), whether work processes are scaling to meet the larger needs, and if employee productivity has been challenged. The success of growth often pushes a company beyond its current capabilities. Processes may need to be streamlined and standardized to extend to new regions easily, and employees need to have the skills and knowledge to work more efficiently in the expanding environment.

Now, let’s go back to question 4 for a moment. “Have you tried to make improvements in the company but have not seen the results you wanted?” Boy, this is a big question! When changes don’t produce the results you expected, there are several key questions to consider:

  1. Did you implement the improvements that would remove the underlying causes? Or did implementation fall by the wayside?
  2. Did you prototype these changes and measure them? Did the prototype provide a clear go/no-go signal before the “larger” implementation?
  3. Did you think about change management and user adoption and plan for those when implementing the plan?

The point is you can’t just keep using the same methods and expect new results.


  1. Are employees pushing for clarifying individual roles or forming natural work groups?
  2. Are executives prioritizing work in their own division first before projects that benefit the company as a whole?
  3. Is the most common first response to an error to ask “who made that mistake?” or “what went wrong?”
  4. Do leaders provide answers to work problems or coach employees and teams to find answers on their own?

Questions 11-14 are all about STYLE, or the leadership style of top management and the overall operating style of the organization. These styles become the behavioral norms of the organization and impact how employees and managers work and interact with each other and with their customers.

When employees are asking for role clarifications (question 11), what they are really asking is, “Where are my work boundaries? Is this my role or someone else’s role?” The customer, on the other hand, prefers that employees collaborate and coordinate work processes across the whole corporation, which serves the customer best. The customer does not worry so much about individual employee roles.

If executives prioritize work in their own divisions first (question 12), then they are doing what is important to themselves first. Prioritizing their own work might mean a better bonus for them, but this is not necessarily best for customer needs, or for the company as a whole.

Where does responsibility lie when a problem occurs (question 13)? Who provides answers to problems and how does that happen (question 14)? It is easy to blame employees and work units and call that “accountability,” but if a company takes the time to look beyond pointing at who is “accountable,” it often finds problems in the work processes which need to be fixed first so the employees and departments can perform their jobs better. If leaders provide answers to work problems (question 14), employees learn to depend on them instead of using data, root cause analysis, and doing an onsite observation to formulate solutions on their own.

The questions of STYLE ask whether the company is encouraging employees to question, to use data, and to learn in order to build a company where work processes are analyzed and improved to keep the organization progressing.


  1. Does the company value the ability to analyze problems as much as it values domain expertise?

The last question is about SKILLS, which refers to the distinctive competencies of employees in the organization, the management practices, systems, and technologies. Do the people predominately have technical skills in their own area or do they have wider skills they use to solve problems and analyze work? These wider skills would enable employees to work with data and processes (on their own) within and across a process. Yes, employees need technical skills in their own domain, but they also need process and analytical skills to look at workflow and analyze data for several problem areas within a work process.

Your Company Process Roadmap

So what should your company do?

If you had 11-15 answers in Column 2, then you are at Process Capability Level One – BEGINNING.

You need to make some initial decisions in order to know how to proceed. First, have these questions stimulated you to pay more attention to process improvement because you think your company would benefit? If the answer is yes, then how should you start? Use the two questions below to focus your thoughts.

  1. Are there business needs in the company that require a new way of working and thinking?
  2. Do you have the leadership that will support a prototype process improvement project with the right level of resources (people, time, money)?

Choose a project that is critical for that leader and the company, but not too big. Keep your eyes on the prize—managing the scope and timing of the process improvement project and executing it to achieve successful results. Next, communicate that success and build on that project with another project. The success and promotion of the first few projects is important, as well as what you learn from them.

If you had 6-10 answers in column 2, then you are at Process Capability Level Two – MIDDLE.

Identify your company’s strengths and your best leaders in the process improvement area; determine how each brings you results. Identify your top one or two business process improvement challenges from your answers in Column 1. Then, determine where to extend the breadth of the process improvement effort to additional leaders and projects. Use former leaders as coaches to new BPI leaders and former team members as coaches to members on the new teams. Make sure you are gathering baseline metrics internally and with customers. You may need an external consultant to help you. The consultant’s goal should be to assist in building and implementing successful BPM projects, to train internal people, and to work themselves out of a job.

If you had 1-5 answers in column 2, then you are at Process Capability Level Three – ADVANCING PROGRESS.

Hooray! Your process capability level is growing to greater maturity. The company is ready to think more enterprise-wide. I suggest looking at the company’s strategic objectives, identifying several process improvement leaders, and reviewing key customer and internal data. You may even want to assess yourself against the CMMI process maturity framework. Decide on larger cross-functional projects that will directly impact strategy. Compare yourself to some other best practice companies, such as the ones described in Case Studies in How Organizations Become More Mature. (BPTrends)

What Should Your Company Do Next?

This special report provides (1) a short and easy company self-assessment, (2) an understanding about the results of the assessment, and (3) ideas for the first steps in your Process Roadmap. For more specifics, send me a copy of your answers to the I-4 Process Capability Self-Assessment and I will provide you with a free 30 minute consultation on how to develop a company roadmap based your company’s culture, values, current process experience, and leadership style.

Shelley Sweet
Author: Shelley SweetWebsite: http://www.i4process.com/
President, i4Process

Shelley Sweet, President of i4Process, Inc., is a leading BPM expert with over 20 years of experience. She has educated hundreds of individuals and organizations on how to better develop and manage their business process improvement projects through her successful consulting engagements and popular training workshops. She is the author of The BPI Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Guide to Make Your Business Process Improvement Projects Simple, Structured, and Successful (Cody-Cassidy Press, February 2014). She can be reached by email: ShelleySweet@i4Process.com, phone 650-493-1300, or visit her website at www.i4Process.com