Over the years, much has been written on the important and useful discipline of process improvement. Organizations have, quite understandably, invested in analyzing, documenting and improving their core processes. An increasing focus has been placed on continuous improvement, with many organizations empowering workers on the frontline to look for opportunities for incremental changes. Organizations that have embraced these disciplines and philosophies have come on leaps and bounds, stealing precious competitive advantage over their rigid and set-in-their-ways competitors.

Yet, amongst this myriad of improvement work, there are still organizational processes that don’t work as expected, with some that seem to cause significant stress and inconvenience for internal staff as well as end-consumers. I suspect we have all experienced poor processes as a customer—perhaps you call a supplier with a question and you’re passed from department to department. Your query doesn’t fit the ‘script’, and it feels like you’re speaking to uncaring person after uncaring person. After what seems like hours, you end up hanging up in frustration and going with a competitor.

There are many reasons for issues of this type, but when discussing improvement an important question to ask is: improvement for whom.

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