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Process Versus Culture

By Jorge Luis Cristerna Medina - Multiled
Operations Director


By Jorge Cristerna | Dirección de Operaciones - Wed, 02/22/2023 - 15:00

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In everything we do, we take certain actions, step by step, to have a final result, which, in the end, becomes a process. It sounds simple but, in fact, there is a great deal of  complexity in developing a correct and effective process. 

One of the typical mistakes we make when we are trying to develop a new process is to be centered almost exclusively on the end result. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it is not important to know what result we want to achieve in the end, but there are some things we need to be aware of before trying to initiate a new process. 

First of all, we need to have clarity about our current results., It is because of the best of your process, culture, target-setting and talent that you are in the exact spot where you are now. So, let’s not be crazy about it (the definition of madness according to Einstein is to do the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result) If the results we are getting now are not what we want or need, change is a must . 

To start, we need to understand exactly how the process is working now. An Operational Flow Diagram can help us understand every step of the process. We can also see  who is responsible for every step of the process, if there are any bottlenecks anywhere, where the agility of our process is severely affected, and  if we have any yellow flags (where the process indicates a risk of failure), red flags (the areas of the process where we are in fact failing now), and reworking (if we are repeating parts of the process we should not be repeating). 

Once we have mapped out the process, it is time to understand the end result  we want to achieve and what we can do to get there. We can start with these next steps:

  1. Who is responsible: Often, it is discovered that two or more people are doing the same part of the process, only differently. This does not increase value from the process, so it is important to understand who is the responsible person for every part of the process. When the responsibility is on all of us, with no one in charge of  the follow-up, the chances are that it is going to fail. 

  2. Bottleneck process: Sometimes we cannot see the delay or how the agility of our process is affected because we are used to experiencing the change in the speed of our process but we do not stop to think if this delay is natural, needed or just a force of habit (a bad habit if you ask me). 

  3. Yellow flags: These are the things many companies do not see because although something could go wrong, it didn’t, so they do not take the time to think about how to improve the process and minimize or even eliminate  the risk. Having a registration of the risk detected in every step of the process and using them to create an improvement plan is a good idea. 

  4. Red flags: Sometimes we are just putting out fires in our organization. These are the red flags, where something went wrong and we had to take time to correct it even before we figured out what had happened and how it happened. It is not bad to correct red flags; the big mistake many companies make is to fail in the opportunity of learning exactly what happened, how it happened and what we can do to avoid it from happening again. In other words, the problem is not to make mistakes, the problem is to miss the chance of learning from them. 

  5. Reworking: When we are repeating a job in the process and it does not add any value, we should not be doing it. But force of habit makes us believe that these steps are normal and needed when, in fact, they only slow us down as an organization. 

Mining is a complex group of processes working at the same time, and sometimes one process does not work well with another. This invitation is to learn about our processes, understand them today, see how they are working and then, and only then, define what we want from them, or  kind of results we are trying to get. 

Everything you just read is important but is not the core of the issue. If you want to create relevant processes, you have to answer these next questions, and only you have one right answer: Why do you want this process? What is the real reason for it? If your answer is relevant, then you have a lot of what it takes to make it possible. 

Photo by:   Jorge Luis Cristerna Medina

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