July 2019

Non-Conformance: What A Hedge Can Teach Us About Process Improvement

Imagine the scene: You’re just about to start the analysis for a project which involves a large contact centre employing hundreds of people.  The call centre manager hands you a dusty folder marked Procedure Guide.  “Here you go, this is exactly how we do things here.” says the manager, “this will save you interviewing our busy front-line workers!”. 

I suspect many of us have experienced this situation (although it’s far more likely to be some kind of electronic repository rather than a dusty manual) and when it happens we try and hold back a wry smile.  Procedure guides are extremely useful artefacts, but so often they are not properly managed and maintained and they quickly fall into disrepair. In some cases, the work that is conducted on the shop floor often bares only a passing resemblance to the ‘official’ processes, and in many cases there are unofficial ‘enhancements’, ‘interpretations’ and ‘workarounds’ that have crept in over the years.

With this in mind, when we are carrying out business analysis and improvement work it’s important that we understand how the work really works.  Elicitation techniques such as observation, apprenticing, scenario analysis and many others can help here.  If the process hasn’t been well-managed and well-maintained it’s highly likely that we’ll find variation.  Differences between teams, and even individual workers may have emerged.  There may be entire new ‘steps’ in the process that have been created, or steps might have been removed, re-ordered or changed in some other way.

Standardisation Isn’t (Always) Our Friend

Announcement: BA Conference Europe 2019 — See You There?

As many of you know, I enthusiastically believe in the value that good quality Business Analysis can bring, and I love speaking, writing and presenting on this and many other topics! In a break from my normal ‘blog’ style, I have a very quick update for you. I’m really excited to announce I’ll be speaking at… 

Re-Thinking The Problem: Did You Think Better [On Some Things] When You Were Younger?

Boy in tie and glasses
Image Credit: © indigolt — stock.adobe.com #105350281

Like most folks I know, I have a whole range of mixed memories from my years at school.  Some fantastically ecstatic, others scary and traumatic, but I suppose the sum of those experiences were all ‘character building’.  If you had met me as a school-age child, you would have found someone who had very strong ideological views, but who so often lacked the ability to express them clearly.  Some would argue that little has changed 🙂

I did fairly well at school, but was also seen as a bit feisty at times—my strong views and beliefs weren’t always compatible with the power structures that existed in schools (those power structures, by the way, extend way beyond the teachers and well into the playground).  One phrase that I remember people who perceived that they had power over me told me time and time again was:

“You’ll think differently when you’re older