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June 6, 2016

Process: does it make or break progress …and what does hunting season have to do with it anyway?

by Lori Shecter

processI’m one of those people who always thought process hindered progress and squashed creativity.  My perception was that process stood in the way of getting things done quickly, efficiently, in the most creative way possible. When I worked with Fortune 500’s, I used every loophole to get out of process because, in these companies, the process structures actually stopped production.   Looking back, my  aversion to process was a result of trying to please both my management (getting the largest budget from my clients), my clients (trying to deliver on a promise when time and inventory were short) and my own frustration of being in an impossibly blocked up political world where if 10 people hadn’t signed off (after meetings about when to set up a meeting) the project was not green-lite.  Sound familiar?

It really doesn’t matter what type of industry we are talking about, without process, all elements of your company can easily cost you big  or even worse, fail your team or a customer.  As CEO of a web and app development company for the last 7 years, I have become, despite my protests, a convert but first…

The ultimate process fail

If you’re like me, your telecommunications fees between business and home are a fortune. One Saturday, I was cheerfully told by an RCN rep of the $1000’s I could with save a special promotion.  No brainer, “do it!” I said.

No sooner had that happened than I realized I could not tune into Game of Thrones or Showtime.  After calling RCN, I was told, “well, you are saving money, aren’t you?” That Monday (Cyber Monday, I might add) I found our business lines were disconnected.  Yes, you heard me, DEAD! RCN told me that my number had been released and they didn’t know if I could get it back.

Obviously, the cheerful representative cancelled my entire business and home package and dropped me to basic because she hadn’t bothered to confirm what products I used despite telling me  nothing would change. In addition, RCN doesn’t have order confirmations of any kind sent to the consumer.  But here’s the kicker…when I called corporate headquarters on Monday, I was told I might not have a functioning business line until the following day because…

“Today is the opening of hunting season and all the correct parties are not in the office to give an approval.”

Process is a bitch but it needs to be fixed

Process needs to be unified across all departments and employees…but not to the point that it increases workload and eliminates creativity.  For example, a common process issue is using ONE PROJECT MANAGEMENT TOOL and recording everything in that tool.  Don’t use email, skype or texts to save communications. Too often creative solutions are lost because people can’t remember how they solved the issue. Here are some ways We Are Immediate has started to solve our issues:

  1. First, have a process…a process that everyone can live by. I know it is painful to develop a clear crisp process, especially if you have 1000’s of employees.  But not having process actually costs companies $ millions. Keep your decision making short and sweet when it comes to defining.
  2. Identify where your broken process is and tackle one project at a time.
  3. Involve your department leaders in the process making. Keep meetings about process short – have agenda points to cover and use majority rules for decision making.  Yes, sometimes you have to vote.
  4. Explain to employees why there is process and reward them ( bonus, vacation day, team day off) for correct use of processes.
  5. Adjust and rework. There needs to be checks and balances for how process affects output and bottom line.

If it ain’t working fix it.  If it is working, make it better.

And in the end…

I did get my cable service and business lines adjusted, but after talking for hours to the executive office, and having to renegotiate my entire package (because the one that was cancelled was no longer available) I’d say that RCN has a way to go to fix their process.

About Lori Shecter

Lori is the CEO of We Are Immediate.  A boutique digital development company based in NYC.

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