Jigsaw LLC


Challenge your rituals – Part II

— Culture & Observations —

Yesterday, in the first part of this post, I was thinking it was time for some Business Process Management (BPM) applied to our agency Status meeting. To briefly recap, BPM is a company’s ongoing (or semi-annual at least) equivalent to closet-cleaning, and it allows us to shed unnecessary process rituals in favor of newer, more efficient processes and (ideally) increased nimbleness.

Today we’ll look at a quick and easy way to sort through a process ritual in order to determine if it has the appropriate level of purpose and value or whether it no longer makes sense.

Speaking of closet-cleaning, I think the process of cleaning out a closet offers a good template. Everyone knows (well, I guess it depends on how much Oprah you’ve watched), that there are just a few easy questions you can ask to determine whether a garment should remain in your closet – or whether it should be placed in the keep, toss or repair pile.

  1. Have you worn it in the past 1.5 years?
  2. Does it fit/is it flattering?
  3. Is it the image you want to portray?

Cleaning out a process-closet can be a bit trickier than cleaning out your personal wardrobe though. Imagine that you share your clothes with a group – or maybe even all – of your co-workers. The decision making must involve the whole team. BPM is not easy, but the more we practice the better we can get at it.

So we haven’t had Status in months, but it hasn’t yet been years. It’s not completely forgotten, we still think about it quite often.  So in that sense, it’s still a keeper.

Does it fit and flatter? My guess is no. Well, at least it wasn’t fitting everyone. Something about status wasn’t working – too long/not long enough, too many people/not enough people/not the right people, wrong time of day/week, not valuable enough, etc. It was probably all these things! So now we know it’s not in the keep pile – but should we toss it or repair it?

At a very basic level, the purpose of any status meeting is to keep work flowing. In theory, the rest of the week we work independently or in smaller project teams and it’s plausible that during this time we move away from each other. Status is about course correction and being one cohesive business unit.  Is this the image we want to portray? I would say yes, absolutely.

So, now we know. We will keep Status, but it needs alterations before it’s ready to rock again.

From this point, it’s just a quick business analysis exercise to discover who uses Status, what each user expects from Status and how Status can be modified to deliver the most value to the highest percentage of users. Certainly not an insignificant task, but much more digestible now that we have a better understanding of the value.

It’s particularly easy to come in and do this sort of closet cleaning/process optimization when you are new to an organization. We’ve noticed that our OrangeAid interns have a unique ability to ask us why we cut the ends off of our ham – among other things. But you don’t have to be an intern or a newbie or even a process-oriented individual to initiate these sorts of evaluations.

The closet-cleaning model is just one way to keep things fun and easy. More important than how you go about it is that you have good dialog about it within the agency and that and you do it. Get in a room, focus on one closet at a time, and start sorting through what works and what doesn’t. Not only does this foster a progressive energy within the agency but it provides the necessary meaning to the process rituals that give each agency their structure and strength.

Posted by Jigsaw