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How do you convince your company to embrace a business process mindset?

Embracing a business process mindset is crucial for organizations looking to streamline operations, enhance efficiency, and drive long-term success. However, convincing organizations to adopt this mindset can be a challenging endeavour.

Here are some strategies I consciously or unconsciously use to persuade organizations to embrace a business process mindset.

I see two ways you can do this. The first is the ideal or theoretical or what I would call the top-down way. This way is mostly described in the books they teach you at university.

The theoretical way is one we all know. Let me give you some examples:

1. Understand their pain points: Begin by thoroughly understanding the organization's current pain points and challenges. What issues are they facing in their day-to-day operations? Identifying these pain points will allow you to tailor your approach and demonstrate how a business process mindset can address these specific issues.

2. Highlight the benefits: Clearly articulate the benefits of adopting a business process mindset. These benefits may include increased efficiency, reduced operational costs, improved quality, enhanced customer satisfaction, and better strategic alignment. Use real-world examples and case studies to illustrate how other organizations have achieved success through process optimization.

3. Align with strategic goals: Show how a business process mindset aligns with the organization's strategic goals. Emphasize how process improvement can contribute to achieving these goals and help the organization stay competitive in a rapidly changing business environment.

4. Involve leadership: Gain the support of key leaders and decision-makers within the organization. Leadership buy-in is essential for driving any significant organizational change. Present the business process mindset as a strategic initiative that can lead to long-term benefits.

5. Continuous improvement culture: Emphasize that adopting a business process mindset is not a one-time effort but an ongoing commitment to continuous improvement. Encourage a culture that values feedback, innovation, and the pursuit of efficiency.

But what do you do if management does not yet have the business process mindset? If they are in the rut of their daily operational tasks and have deadlines to manage and targets to achieve? Then you have to become creative and very, very practical. This is the second approach, which I call the bottom-up way. We often find ourselves in situations where we have to use the bottom-up way, because management does not have a business process mindset and does not see the benefits or does not know how it works or there are other priorities.

Principles for bringing about change

1. “Throw a stone in the pond” – or Start small: Rather than proposing a complete organizational overhaul, start with small, manageable process improvements. Implementing quick wins can demonstrate the immediate value of the business process mindset and build confidence within the organization. And more importantly: change creates movement. And movement creates change. If people see that things can change, the idea that change is possible will start to grow.

2. Challenge the “we have always done it like this” mantra: Determine what is needed to bring the organization forward and find your way around the “we have always done it like this” mantra by proposing and presenting the better ways of working as alternatives. Showcase new ways with examples and at the same time create doubts regarding the current ways of working. To encourage people to look at alternatives, it helps to show the cracks in the current processes. Also, find the people who are more open to alternatives and work with them to find a way forward.

3. Identify facts: Many situations, especially in companies, stay the same because they are built on assumptions instead of facts. The assumptions are seldom accurate, but they are often presented as facts. Approach each situation with a fresh perspective, and be mindful in each conversation about your own assumptions so that you will be able to distinguish assumptions other people may be making. And the only way to find out is by asking questions: questions about the assumptions you recognize. This requires some listening skills but also knowledge on the subject.

4. Education and training: Offer knowledge and open yourself up to criticism. Give the people who want to learn something to learn. Identify the people who are curious and want to learn and also identify the people who like the repetitiveness in their work. Working with people who want to learn is easy: provide them with education and training and it will take off. Changing the ways for the people who have become used to and attached to their daily work is less easy and may lead to resistance. Most of the criticism may come from this group of people. And they are right, the new ways have not yet proven themselves. So the only way to convince is by showing the new ways in action, providing knowledge on the new ways and explaining why, while taking their criticism into account.

5. Be patient and persistent: Maybe this is the most important principle. Changing an organization's mindset takes time. Be patient and persistent in your efforts. Address resistance and setbacks as they arise and adapt your approach as needed.

In summary, convincing organizations to embrace a business process mindset requires a strategic and tailored approach. A part of this approach includes emphasizing the benefits, aligning with strategic goals, gaining leadership support, and involving employees. A clear strategy is crucial, but this should not be a show from the board and the HR department only. Therefore, another part of this approach is the tailoring of the approach to the daily operations.

The people on the work floor will need to make the changes in their daily work. And for this, some practical guidance may be needed. Therefore, to implement change, you can bring in people who help drive the change from the bottom up. People with a fresh view on things and who have experience with what business processes entail.

Are you looking for help with implementing a business process mindset?

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