I am a big, big fan of process control and especially process improvement. My own definition of a good process reads as follows.
“A good process is one that enables good people to perform their best.”
I’ve actually endured several arguments over the years from peers who firmly believe that a good process is one that works in spite of people. I understand the point of view, but cannot bring myself to agree.
Let me tell a quick story, another experience from my engagements this week. A business has a new product to deliver to a customer that is already very sensitive and irritable concerning on-time delivery. Unfortunately, the new exterior material, specified by the customer, failed an important regulatory test and the product cannot be shipped.
The source of the problem was immediately traced to an error in the supply chain; the material was not properly treated. OK, so there is an important supplier quality and supplier process problem to solve, not to mention a supplier control issue to address, but the immediate need is to get new material in as quickly as possible, rebuild the product and re-test a sample, now!
Three weeks later, there still isn’t any product, there’s no test sample, and no material. Oops! As we expect, the process repair people and everyone associated to the product, with a finger pointed at them was called into a conference room to sort out what is wrong. A little root cause analysis brought everyone to the source very quickly.
The product hadn’t been tested or delivered.
There wasn’t any material.
The material hadn’t been ordered.
The purchaser was waiting for a quote. (What???!!!)
The process says to get a quote.
Why, oh why, is the team waiting for a quote for something that they already have established a contract to get, especially in an emergency situation where the only reason for the purchase order is to get a re-supply of material that came defective? When you are done wiping embarrassed tears of humiliated laughter out of your eyes, we’ll discuss the process drone phenomenon.