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Key phases for successful improvement

In addition to being in the middle of summer, we are also in the middle of a series of reviews of key phases and steps for successful improvement. So far we have reached the third phase of five:

  1. Planning and organising
  2. Mapping and understanding
  3. Vision and design

Complexity (again)

In a previous weekly newsletter I talked about complexity, which is something you can calculate once you see your current process. Now that you are working on finding an improved and more efficient value-adding flow, i.e. process, you need to make sure that you minimise the complexity of the new improved flow.

Going back to my military career, we used to say that “in war, only the simple is possible”. By that we mean that we have to keep things simple, otherwise we lose control. This is because there are already so many uncontrollable variables affecting us, and we don’t need to create more ourselves.

To change your processes, you need to make sure when you design the processes that the flow is as simple as possible. There are a lot of “ifs and buts” that come up in any process, where we easily make mistakes and make the process too complex just because we want to cover all 100% of cases that may arise.

Then you also need to think about whether they really change the flow of the process, or whether these cases can be handled in the process you have already designed. In many cases, we do not need to change the process, but it can look the same for several different types of cases.

Now that you have the opportunity to build from the ground up; make it easy.

  • You should have few, but valuable, interactions with the customer.
  • The process should have minimal need for manual work, except where it adds value for the customer.
  • Thus, much of automation where it is value-added or can remove manual work that allows employees to focus on other more important tasks.
  • Automatic saving of the history of the case.
  • Simple view for continuous monitoring of process metrics.


Then, when designing your enhanced business, it wants to require that IT supports are integrated with each other. There’s a lot of talk about digitisation and it’s so much more than just new systems or new technical gadgets.

The systems you have in place may be good or they may not be the best. However, they are often unfortunately not open to communicate with other systems.

Systems being open and able to communicate with others is a given today and must be reflected in your new improved flow. Otherwise, your big thoughts about how good your new process will be will ultimately involve manually entering information into yet another business system, storing documents in a complicated folder structure on your disk, and/or printing and scanning.

My experience of successful digitisation is that you start from the value creation flow and build system support and integrations around it, and not the other way around. One obvious aspect of a digitised process is that you have full control over the flow of the process itself.

It is missing many times today. You have no idea how many “cases” you are dealing with, where they are in the flow, how long they have been there, who is responsible for them, how long it takes between steps, and so on.

Make sure you get full control of your new greatly improved value creation flow. It gives you a whole new level of control over your business.

Control is the new guarantee

When you have digitised help to keep track of the flow, you also have the opportunity to get answers on how your business is doing. Now, not Q1 or last year. But momentarily, here and now. To quote Henry Magnusson, former head of the municipality of Boden, when working to improve their operations; “I want to be able to come in in the morning and see on my screen how Boden’s municipality is doing today”.

Setting up your dashboard the way you want it to look is important for following your business. Imagine that you steer your business like you steer your car; you look out the front window (forward view) where you are supported by all the instruments that tell you how your journey and your vehicle are going now (momentarily).

The dashboard is not only for the process manager, but it is for all process workers as well. Everyone should be able to follow the current situation and act accordingly. That’s how you lay the foundations for self-governing groups.

What do you gain from all this?

Good question. That’s why it’s incredibly important that you do a Value for Money analysis when you start designing your improved flow and describing how well you want your business to work.

A Benefit Value Analysis gives you all the answers to the benefits (gains, savings, advantages) of moving from your mapped baseline to the vastly improved situation you have now designed. Without it, there is no argument as to why anyone should be allowed to make the transformative improvements in the business.

For larger scale improvements, which we are talking about now, will “stir up dust”. Then there needs to be explanations as to why it is done. Otherwise, it’s easy for someone who thinks “there’s too much dust” to complain and perhaps shut down the work. And we don’t want that!


Another exciting education

I’ve already talked about a course starting in the autumn (see more below), but there’s also another one. It is the training How to succeed in your improvement work – 5 steps to make your work easier, more fun and more effective.

It is shorter and will be in mixed form; both with recorded material but also live.

Here we look at what is possible when you succeed in your improvement work. You will learn some important basic skills to succeed, but you will also learn about what it looks like in other organisations, both in Sweden and abroad. We will go through a variety of good examples. In addition, we will also take a closer look at what digitalisation is and can do to help us succeed.

Click here to sign up for the entry list. Of course, it is completely unconditional and you have not committed yourself to anything, but only said that you want more information.

Certified Improvement Leader

This autumn also sees the start of the next round of the Certified Improvement Leader training, which is now upgraded with the latest version of the Shaper of Business Excellence improvement methodology.

The first phase of five is to plan and organise your improvement work. The second is to map and understand the current state of the business for each priority process. And the third phase is to create a vision and design the future improved situation.

In the new version, this phase consists of 24 steps, which I have described in detail in this and last week’s newsletter.


Are you interested in learning more about how you too can succeed in your improvement work and how you could lead and drive this work? Then I think you should sign up for the entry list for one of the courses. This means that you will receive more information before it is released to “everyone else”. I will also be able to answer your specific questions about your improvement work.

For How to succeed in your improvement efforts, click HERE.

For Certified Improvement Leader click HERE.

I wish you a nice summer and I’ll talk to you next week.