Latest Event Updates

Making Products Customers Love

Posted on

Creating products that have long lasting impressions on your customers takes more than effort to put smart products on the market- a market already inundated with competing and compelling products. So, what do you need to do differently to create stellar products or services that will create meaning for us?

Image

Process cleansing

Designing products and services that seek to solve a problem, change systems and behavior, improve or provide value addition rests squarely on the processes you depend on to deliver such results you intended, not accidentally offered.

 Your business and service processes are what inform the kind or nature of your product and service offering. Any system that that suffers from irregular assessment, servicing and improvement produces an expected outcome, not unplanned.  

 An infected meal causes upset in your stomach; which leads to ill health and an eventual poor outlook in your health. Until your gastronomic system is treated, we rarely shall have a healthy YOU. Using this analogy you can imagine how much horror your product and serving offerings are causing your customers.

 The take home message here is that be mindful of your process delivery.

Optimum corporate productivity and performance improvement finds energy in highly effective and efficient corporate processes. If your processes are weak, less robust and efficient your products and service delivery suffers.

 

When the flag is red

Your performance results are lousy when the bottom-line status quarter on quarter is weak against planned target. Which means we are not buying from you, or telling friends and family about you. You lose money, and market share. The red flags are then raised! ‘We need to re-strategize’ says your leadership. Ironically, the red flag record is not the first of its kind in the company history, even for the year. It is symptomatic of your corporate delivery.

When the red flag is shown by the corporate referee (your leadership), it is about time to reconsider and question the processes you are using to deliver results; no matter how abysmal.

 Let’s show value

Your failure to recognize and deliver value to a customer can increase your journey from Johannesburg into Harare-that is if you think you know the route so well! Don’t kid yourself. You only kid yourself when you underestimate the journey (process), aware of the borders of change and where to take sensible detours. You cannot accept to be a nomadic traveler, when other travelers show more than enough from their stories. Stories of value, change, long lasting meaning that is shaping people’s live and thinking. Be a smart traveler. Be a process-driven ambassador offering superior value and products to your customers. We are going to teach you more at the CPI2014 event in Accra and Nairobi. Join us.

By Benjamin Yaw Manu

Photo credit: istockphotos

 

Advertisement

Ways to talk up to your Boss

Posted on

Angry at work?

If you are here wanting to speak straight into your boss’s face for something niggling you, you may be committing series of blunders at the work place already. The good news is that these are not blunders, but acknowledging the fact that there is/are reason(s) you want to do just that. From your personal point of view some of the reasons could be that:

  • your effort is not recognized
  • you feel powerless
  • you believe the company/organization does not understand you
  • or your performance is not valued
  • So, if you are in any of the categories above, you may want to really talk up to your boss.

Ways to talk up to your Boss

  1. Do a self -reflection of the personal challenges above, particularly bullet 1,2 and 3 or more
  2. Ask yourself that if you were to employ someone in your own company exhibiting similar traits above, what could be your next line of action to improve performance.
  3. Have a candid informal engagement with your boss reiterating your difficulties above
  4. If you receive a cold reception…try 1, 2, 3 again
  5. If you still hit a rock, your last resort, after a dispassionate personal assessment, is to evaluate your values against that of your company, and take an informed decision.

 

At Sigmastrat we want to provoke ways to stimulate performance and productivity in your personal life and your time at work. The good news is that we are already testing such models at our offices, and you can do so too.  Do not hesitate to attend the next 2013 CPI West Africa Event in Accra to learn more.

 

By Benjamin Yaw Manu

 

 

 

 

Team Management & Leadership

Posted on Updated on

Hello “interested business developer” welcome to this week’s post. Last week it was all about getting to know WHAT business development is and also knowing WHO orchestrates business development – the business developer. This week we continue on our interesting quest of  HOW a business developer brings about sustainable business development.                                                                                       Team Development Right

Team Leadership and Management

A good business developer strives to achieve sustainable business development by motivating and developing his or her team to continuously improve their performance. Business developer’s are well vested with insights into the roles and responsibilities of being a supervisor, understands and practices effective leadership and uses techniques that will get the best out of every team member.

As a business developer you will not always be a member or in charge of a team that is understanding and easy to work with. There might be cases where a team member or a number of team members will step on the toes of others or feel misunderstood by other members and engage in actions that might hamper the success of the team. It is at this point in time that the BUSINESS DEVELOPER exhibits good management approach to take care of difficult people and difficult situation.

Time management is key to the development of an organization. Good business developers are equipped with the necessary skills to plan and deliver efficient business solutions with the conscious effort on delivering just in time. Business developer also knows how to avoid activities that steal precious time from the organization.

In the later section of last week’s post, feedback was mentioned as an important tool for the business developer to use in interacting with his or her team. This week I will like to reiterate the importance of feedback to the business developer and the organization. Feedback helps the business developer to understand his or her team, the challenges they are facing and the way the problem is evolving. Feedback is to facilitate better communication, organization, planning and control of the team’s activities. As important as feedback is to the business developer, he or she has to pay detail attention to the events happening around so as to evaluate feedback properly.

What more does a business developer do to achieve sustainable business development? Stay tuned to our next blog post for more tricks and tips. Please don’t forget to leave your comments on this post, visit our website or follow us on Facebook.

Cheers.

What is Sustainable Business Development

Posted on

Most business owners are looking for new ways to get their products out into the market and known by consumers. They are also looking for ways of making sure they continue to stay in business by adapting to the fast changing business environment. The question they find themselves asking time and time again is HOW to do this. In the weeks ahead the discussion will be centered around Sustainable Business Development and answering the important question of HOW to develop a business in a sustainable manner. Today’s post will start off by looking at what business development is and as always the rest of the goodies regarding sustainable business development will be unraveled.  

Business development is a term which takes its roots from the world of business and commerce. It generally comprises tasks and processes that are designed to develop and bring about sustainable growth in a business. In today’s dynamic and vibrant business environment, the fusion of information technology with traditional business practices, advance marketing techniques, detailed accounting of activities, ground breaking sales and customer relations development all form part of business development. We have made an attempt to give meaning to WHAT business development is, but the question of WHO brings about business development needs to be addressed.  

Through the use of analytical thinking and problem solving the business developer is tasked to find potential growth opportunities and implement best strategies and practices that will help an organization take maximum advantage of its opportunities. In the implementation of task and processes that will bring about potential growth opportunities, it is key for the business developer to pay close attention to feedback from the organizations working units such as production, marking, sales, and operations. Oops that tip wasn’t supposed to come out until later. But I guess now we know feedback is key in bring about sustainable business development. What more does a business developer do to achieve sustainable business development? Stay tuned to our next blog post for more tricks and tips. To learn more about what has been discussed in this blog post, visit us at www.sigmastrat.com .

Cheers Mate. 

Sigmastrat – What are your views on Performance Improvement Software?

Posted on Updated on

What are your views on Performance Improvement Software? Are they the most effective way of driving the PI process?

Continuous Improvement Blogs Ghana

Posted on Updated on

www.sigmastrat.com

If you are into Process/Performance Improvement, then join us on linkedin ‘Continuous Process Improvement Africa’ . This is a group for you.

You can also post blogs here or reply to posts.
A continuous improvement process (CIP or CI) is an ongoing effort to improve products, services, or processes. These efforts can seek “incremental” improvement over time or “breakthrough” improvement all at once.Delivery (customer valued) processes are constantly evaluated and improved in the light of their efficiency, effectiveness and flexibility.

This is what a friend of mine said:

CPI = Continuous Process Improvement, which begins with Continuous Personal Improvement Continuous Personal Improvement is the process of sanctification.

Sigma = standard deviation = missing the mark = sin. The closer we can get to the designer’s intent, the more consistently we can deliver the “ideal” to those around us. Missing the mark may not mean falling outside of the specification limits, but always has a cost to society.

Spec limits = the law. Think 10 Commandments. Thou shalt not…. doesn’t tell us what we should be doing — only what we shouldn’t. Focus on the law begs us to challenge every little activity as acceptable or not acceptable (“don’t commit adultery” is the law, but does that mean I can still flirt? Can I read baudy magazines?). Focus on the law will always lead our eyes away from the true goal, and will always have a cost to society. But, focusing on the ideal state — on the designer’s intent or the “middle” of the spec will always drive down variation, because our focus is continuous improvement rather than “good enough”.

Come onboards lets discuss CI/CPI/CIP in relation to Africa

Performance Improvement in Ghana

Posted on Updated on

Sigma Strategic Business Consult Limited (Sigmastrat) is a business strategy, performance Improvement and  project management consulting firm that serves as a key advisor to leading companies in Ghana and the West African sub-region. We provide our clients with unique insight to drive critical decision making and solve their most pressing problems. Sigmastrat also provides LEAN Kaizen and Six Sigma solutions. We are dedicated to helping companies and organizations improve their performance and achieve sustained profitable growth.
Sigmastrat has a widely spread footprint with a mobile, highly experienced team of technical specialists and performance improvement experts with impressive track records and over 100 years combined experience in various fields of business growth.
Apart from Corporate level strategy, Sigmastrat offers bespoke Management training services, both online and class rooms based, and have tailored on-site sessions to meet specific corporate needs.
Every year, the majority of our business comes from clients with whom we worked in the previous year, an indicator of our ability to achieve lasting results for our clients. Our client relationships are enduring, as many clients have remained partners for years. We are dedicated to helping clients achieve meaningful and measurable results in areas critical to their success. We measure our success by the results our clients achieve and by the depth and extent of our relationship with them.
Sigmastrat is registered in Ghana as Sigma Strategic Business Consult Limited. Registration Number CA 89379

Seven Deadly Sins of Business Process Management (Contributor: Chris Taylor)

Posted on

You thought Business Process Management was a comparatively safe field.  Think again!  Stay clear of these seven deadly sins of BPM – to avoid eternal condemnation or the need to beg forgiveness.  I should add it’s a personal view and apologies for any of you who were hoping for more on lust or gluttony!
 
Woe unto he who uses the term ‘management’ when they really mean automating.
 
 
Business process management means many things to many people.  Just take the words ‘process’ and ‘management’ alone – different people see these quite differently according to their perspective(1).  For many BPM vendors and practitioners alike process management has come to mean process automation. Automation is important but it doesn’t constitute Management.  From my perspective Management implies good governance,;  each process should be seen as an important asset and therefore owned, understood, correctly applied and improved continuously. 
 
The end goal is improved performance.  That improvement may involve automation, but not in all cases.  After all – if you look at the activities in your business the vast majority are performed by humans not machines and that’s not going to change any time soon.  What irritates me is that so many of the automation focused tools which purport to offer BPM, offer little capability with respect to Management as I define it above.  The result can easily be the automation of processes which are suboptimal, not properly understood, not properly applied and not continuously improved.
 
(1) Perspectives: An earlier paper “What BPM Hat are you wearing?” explores the different process perspectives of four main stakeholder groups: End Users, IT, System providers and Risk / Compliance.  Access the paper here.
 
 
  
Verily I say unto you that work shall be end-to-end lest ye be functionally silo’d.
 
 
In reality, processes start and end in very different places in the enterprise, often spanning multiple functional areas. There is a risk therefore that process improvement efforts are too narrowly silo’d.  The effect? Different departments fix just their part of a larger process. 
 
It’s difficult to influence what happens either upstream or downstream from that part.  And yet improvement of the full end-to-end flow requires collaboration along the full path.  The failure to achieve such consensus could result in worsened performance, as a fix in one silo could be a retrograde step for another.
 
A similar challenge is that different specialist projects spring up all the time that duplicate each other’s process discovery efforts because the organization lacks a central repository for process knowledge.  Take a typical ERP or CRM project as a good example.  A team of consultants from a system integrator create a bunch of Visio diagrams.  Their use is temporary.  Once the system has gone live or the upgrade is complete – typically the content sits in a forgotten network folder and is never referred to again.  Five years on – time for an upgrade.  The content – if found – is regarded with suspicion.  It’s out of date.  The next SI (often a different company) does exactly the same – recreating a bunch of content that has little or no residual value.
 
Meanwhile, there are all sorts of other projects going on, that  all aim to understand and improve process. For example: Compliance, Quality, Risk Management, Shared Services, Outsourcing, Lean, Six Sigma, Merger / Acquisition, perhaps others as well. 
 
In a typical business few of these projects share a common source of process truth.  Just imagine how much duplicated effort and waste could be eliminated if all of these projects started off with a single source of process truth…a repository of process knowledge that was commonly understood and trusted as up-to-date.  It would not only speed up progress for each project, it would enable new ways to demonstrate or enable:
• Regulatory compliance (such as FDA, EPA, SOx)
• Compliance to quality standards (such as ISO, TCF)
• Employee training and task performance support
• Performance Management where scorecards and metrics are tied to relevant processes activities
• Customer journeys
• Alignment to frameworks (SCOR, APQC’s PCF), and more.
 
Moving process management efforts from multiple silos to a shared enterprise asset creates the opportunity for huge efficiency gains, and the capability to start leveraging that asset far more powerfully for all manner of business initiatives.
 
 
Ezekiel saw the wheel, but he didn’t reinvent it.
 
 
If starting a BPM initiative means starting with a blank slate on which you draw, you’re likely reinventing the wheel. Process frameworks were developed to avoid exactly this issue. Through the use of frameworks like APQC’s PCF, ITIL, or the Supply Chain Council’s SCOR Model, process can be arranged in a hierarchy that has the benefit of thousands of contributing voices and is vetted by use in many industries.
 
Seeing a standardized structure and language for process activities gives the following quick benefits:
• Content management – like a ‘Dewey Decimal System
• Benchmarking and metrics
• Sidestepping personalities and political motivations (‘inconveniencing everyone equally’)
• Scoping of effort and gap analysis
• Preventing duplication
 
When you see this list, you can see that not taking advantage of these benefits considerably slows process discovery and documentation.
 
As an added bonus, there are likely process ‘snippets’ in disparate databases all across your enterprise, and getting them together in a meaningful way is very challenging if you don’t have a central framework on which to hang them.
 
 
  
Seek and you should be able to find very easily.
 
 
All too often, users are asked to navigate process content on crude websites, intranets or in directory/folder structures to find the key information needed to perform their work. If the worker sees much more than is relevant to their position, the likelihood that they’ll come back to the repository as a knowledge source or work aid becomes more and more remote with each frustrated effort.  On the other hand, if the system is role-based, it offers each user personalized, easy access to the process content relevant to their role in the organization.  In that way the process repository can become a useful performance support system, like an electronic mentor.
 
Personalization means more than having login credentials. People have compound roles – serving more than one role in their organization. At one moment, I may be a hiring manager, under the guidance of an HR-owned process, and in another I am a rank-and-file employee that must perform safety procedures in a prescribed, approved manner.
 
Rather like context sensitive help available from most application software, the process repository should offer me easy access to the process information I require in relation to a task or my role.  The absence of such personalization and effective search capabilities leads to information obfuscation and organizational confusion.
 
 
  
Thou shalt assign an owner and that owner shall be accountable.
 
 
For any information to be trustworthy, someone who can authorize its initial use and any subsequent changes must own it. Assigning ownership to process is the key to making sure that the people accountable for the success of a process have the proper authority to approve and change what they own. While it seems straightforward, this capability is all too often missing from BPM applications.
Once ownership is assigned, there should to be a systematic way for people to suggest changes, and for that owner to approve or reject those suggestions. If this capability is lacking, you’re going to have a hard time engaging your workforce in continuous improvement, and the tendency will be for content review to become a sporadic and inconsistent effort.
 
Providing access to out of date information will quickly discredit your process repository, causing users to defect to the old ways of getting work done.
 
 
  
Yea, do not confuse thine followers with strange tongues.
 
 
Process diagrams need context to give meaning to their symbols and lines. For process to be understood by the end users, it needs to be expressed in symbols that are intuitive and easy to follow. The documents, forms, links and other information that supports those symbols and lines needs to be available at the time the diagram is viewed. What’s more, the documentation needs to be owned and managed by its owner to be relevant and trustworthy. My favorite example of why this matters is the “Interview Candidate” activity.
 
 
Figure 1: Ownership and Execution Model
 
 
The figure shows how the owner and executor of a process step are often different.  And yet they must share a consistent and up-to-date understanding of the approved process.  That information will often need to be localized, (according to regional regulations and company practices,) at the time the activity is executed.
 
Another example is the procurement process, which is often owned by the global supply chain manager at a macro level and executed by someone elsewhere in the value chain using the services of a procurement resource. To get these disparate functions to operate in a coherent fashion requires that the process is not just centrally managed but delivered with localized documentation that is targeted to the specific process consumer.
 
 
  
“Shout your BPM achievements to the heavens and earth so that your BPM system may prosper on the land”
 
 
Some of the best systems I’ve encountered have been the ones that had titles that captured the meaning of their existence…”How2”, “Pathfinder”, “How We Work”. These names don’t evoke the image of an expert system used only by a small clique of process experts. They are the names given to systems that meet the needs of all employees across the business. You’ll find the names emblazoned on promotional posters, web pages and mouse mats, with attractive logos that promote adoption by all employees. There are launch campaigns and continuing efforts to raise awareness and ensure that the resulting resource becomes part of day-to-day operations for all employees. 
 
Ultimately, you can’t drive adoption of a new way of doing business process unless you do the following:
• Provide a single source of truth instead of multiple process silos
• Use frameworks to accelerate discovery and adoption
• Make it easy for every employee to find what they need
• Keep it all up to date
• Make it easy to understand
 
This may seem like a large challenge to any organization trying to undergo change, but the reality is that everyone starts somewhere. Start with a pain point, ‘hang’ it on a framework and use a methodology that makes sense for your workplace.

Corporate Performance Improvement in Ghana

Posted on Updated on

Sigma Strategic Business Consult Limited (Sigmastrat) is a business strategy, Performance Improvement, and project management consulting firm that serves as a key advisor to leading companies in Ghana and the West African sub-region. We provide our clients with unique insight to drive critical decision making and solve their most pressing problems.