Business procedures, such as the development of new services, the procurement of material, the production of goods or the distribution of commodities, are improved through the active Business Process Management (BPM). For this purpose, the procedures are described and weaknesses are visualized in order to optimize the sequence of activities so that only the right thing is done right, e.g.
- better involved customers,
- more reliable delivery,
- accelerated turnaround time,
- automated tasks
- minimized time and costs,
- increased quality,
- and so on.
The desired effects can not be accomplished, if existing approaches and demands get in the way of real progress. This leads to losses of friction that do not disappear with the designing of processes.
Often these hurdles are homemade. A good example of impeding attitudes is the way of dealing with tasks, authority and responsibility.
- Tasks without authority and responsibility
The actual work is performed as a task. Usually something is created, processed, finished or executed – e.g. building a prototype, polishing a surface, assembling a device, washing a car. In order to be able to perform the task, the performers need appropriate knowledge and skills.
However, if they lack the appropriate authority and responsibility for the results, then the fulfillment will be poor.
- Authority without tasks and responsibility
The authority describes the rights that somebody has. This includes the permissions to perform or direct something – e.g. to use a certain machine for manufacturing or to give instructions to the employees. The corresponding permissions must be known by all involved people.
If someone has sufficient authorities, but no task or responsibility, the competence loses its effect.
- Responsibility without task and authority
Responsibility describes the commitments that you make. This can be direct responsibility or shared responsibility – direct responsibility refers to one’s own actions and the activities of directly assigned employees; the shared responsibility arises, if one has indirect influence on occurrences as part of a team (in the sense of cling together, swing together).
Individuals like to adorn themselves with the glow of responsibility – especially, if it does not result in any consequences, because there are no tasks associated or special permissions required.
In simple words: Tasks, authority and responsibility should ALWAYS be in one hand for the sake of adequate results. It makes no sense to assign someone to a task without the necessary authorities for the fulfillment and without the responsibility for the result. Good examples are the Japanese line workers, who perform subtasks in making a car. They have the right and duty to immediately stop the line, if they find a mistake. This allows the earliest possible correction of the flaw. That way they avoid the accumulation of unnecessary rework. At the same time, costly decision-making processes are avoided, which would burden the process.
Bottom line: The design of processes often begins with the application of IT, in the hope that this can improve the process. However, often old rules and roles are retained. As a result, for example, task, authority and responsibility remain in different hands. Even, if it is faster and you only have to click once to fulfill your responsibilities or to allow the performers to do their job. The largest effect is achieved by transferring the task, authority and responsibility to the people, who fulfill the task. They know what to do, can decide how to do it, and strive for the required quality of the result. That way, the losses of friction in a process are minimized.
After years of organizational development, lifelong learning has come to business reality with the Generation Y. Born between 1980 and 2000, they rely on basic things, like their private and business groups, the balance between work and life, opportunities, where they can prove themselves and having fun. At the same time they are always online. Unfortunately, not all tasks are on the edge of innovation or deliver fast success stories in the shortest possible time. This is why companies ask themselves what inspires employees. Maybe it helps to make tasks an adventure?
However, what makes an adventure out of regular tasks, as they occur a thousand times? An important obstacle is the fact that adventures are created in the mind of each person. From the outside, you can only make proposals, but the required attitude everybody develops for oneself. Which explanations foster the desired attitude?
- New tasks are exciting
Of course. Unknown fields must be discovered. There is no standard solution that can be or even has to be copied. All participants are on the same level playing field. Here you can show what you are able to do. The fact that the tasks are again and again similar disturbs some people. In order to let the halo of the new outshines everything, it helps to draw the attention to the things that are different, that are applied for the first time. Even the extraordinary length can create this charm of unconventional. Projects are per se unique activities and have never happened before. Great tasks are, of course, always an adventure.
- Routine tasks can be continually improved
The horror for the adventurer are habitual activities that are repeated. There is nothing new in it that provokes excitement. And yet the practice introduced has its charms. In addition to the continuous improvement, which aims to generate progress from every cycle and every simple result, there is a danger in the exercise of the impractical work which must be avoided. Regular practice makes the processes so internal that they are handled unconsciously. Just as piano players play a piece of music so often from the sheet, until the fingers take control and the musicians can concentrate on the subtle nuances, the same way the routine facilitates to take care of the subtleties of the business. This internalization of the processes and the possible perfection makes routine tasks an adventure.
- Simple tasks can be improved
Even the simplest activities, which seem to require little talent at first sight, which usually take the form of routine tasks, but which obviously do not require any genius, offer unexpected senses of achievement to the attentive people. The accomplishment of simple tasks seems to be beneath the dignity of well-educated people. It is just that the small things that pull the great ones off. It is crucial to focus all senses on the ongoing activity. If you forget the world around you and the time flies unnoticed, you develop the feeling of happiness, which Mihály Csikeszentmihályi calls flow. Looking at the slightest differences and improvement opportunities that are in the execution of a simple activity, make the execution a sensual adventure.
- Unintended tasks expand the capabilities
The biggest obstacle to an adventurous task are the resistances that are built up before the actual activity even starts. This non-willingness often has simple reasons. The most difficult thing is, when the concerned people do not know the task – What has to be done? What do you have to consider? How long can it last? And why at all? At the same time, the advertisers usually know the answer to these questions and could convey the right answers in a challenging language. Sometimes the workforce can not cope with the task – How does it work? How should I create this with my language skills? How can I cope with this without training? Just as farmers prepare their field for sowing, a manager should prepare his employees for a task. As unbelievable as it sounds, but sometimes employees are even not allowed performing the tasks. There are regulations, which prohibit the execution of the activity or because a superior has something else in mind for them. In these cases, you should help the employees by obtaining approval beforehand. If none of the three cases are valid and they still do not want, the resistance has deeper reasons which may have nothing to do with the task. Maybe they just need a new job. Wanted tasks are always an adventure.
Bottom line: Most orders are not a mission to Mars. This, however, does not bother the fact of being an adventure. In every day business, there are always new tasks, which are per se adventurous. In addition, routine tasks or simple activities also offer venture. In the end, it is important that the employees develop the will to carry out the task and commit themselves to the duty. Even the mission to Mars is always rehearsed – actually pure routine. Since adventures happen in mind, means that they are a question of personal attitudes and understanding, the leaders should take care of breathing adventure spirit into every task, according to the motto: Every task an adventure.