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Success Thought of the Day – 7/23/18: I like my results, do I really need to know process?


You cannot say, just by looking at the result of the process, whether the process that created those results is capable of generating predictable output. You must understand the process itself. – Clayton Christensen / Michael Raynor, The Innovator’s Solution

Whether at home or at work, we are all seeking results and we want them consistently.  Just think about how many times you have visited a restaurant, seeking to have a certain meal that you have had there before, expecting the same taste and experience?    You are looking for predictable output, which is natural.

Levels of Predictable Output

During a portion of my time at JPMorgan Chase, I led HR Service Delivery for North America.  While we were doing well as a company, we embarked on a journey to do better by embracing Six Sigma.  For those not familiar with Six Sigma, it is a disciplined, data-driven methodology and approach for eliminating defects in any process.  Thus, driving your processes to deliver quality at a rate of 99.9997% accuracy, which is a Six Sigma (e.g. Five Sigma is 99.98% accuracy).

I recall fondly going through Six Sigma training.  It was a nice day in New York City, a number of us were in the room, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to dig into this new “Six Sigma thing.”  Before we were too long into the training, a few people began to get uncomfortable with a word the trainer was using.  That magical word was “defect.”  One person, in particular, interrupted the trainer and said, “I am not a defect, I will not be called a defect.”  The trainer did a great job explaining that he, nor any person for that matter, was being called a defect.  A defect is within the process – – in fact, everything we were discussing was about the process, not persons.  Of course, people are involved in the process and we must manage performance, but right here and right now, we are talking about process.

Unfortunately, that person continued to disrupt the training and believe it or not, after a number of continued outbursts, he finally said he could not take it any longer and excused himself from the training.  Ultimately, he did not learn the Six Sigma methodology.  Fast forward sometime later, while a number of teams improved their processes and their predictable output, he did not.  Further, he did not keep that role much longer either.

Take-Away Item

As passion/purpose feed into your goals, goals feed into your plans and plans feed into your tasks, processes must feed into your predictable output or what we commonly refer to as results.  If you have areas in which you want to improve your performance, I would advise that you document the process.

There are a number of tools you can use, but let’s start with a few easy tips.

  • #1: Tools: Grab a pack of sticky notes.  Go to a wall or board. Give the overall process a name and put it on a stick note and place that at the very top of the wall or board.
  • #2: Inventory: Write each step in the process on a sticky note and place each note on the wall/board in sequence one after the other.
  • #3: Validate: Invite others who work with you within that process to review it for accuracy.
  • #4: Improve: Look for places within the process where you are a) doing things that do not make sense, b) doing things that appear error-prone (e.g. highly manual where they do not need to be, etc.)
  • #5: Document: Once you have made modifications, document the new process in detail in a word document or tool or your choice.  Thus far you have discussed high-level, not you need to store the details.


Have a great day!

James Rosseau, Sr.


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