I was recently in a Problem Solving review that reminded me of the Childhood nursery rhyme about the Old Woman who swallowed the Fly and, whilst we still don't know why she swallowed that Fly, we do know that it created a chain of events leading to the ingestion of a Horse, which according to the Nursery Rhyme was less than conducive to her good health.
I find that Discipline to processes and standards is often seen as negative, both in terms of stifling the creativity of the individual and in restricting the flexibility of an Organisation. However, time-after-time I see evidence that those Organisations which pride themselves in their flexibility within their processes are often simply covering the cracks of failure in earlier steps of the process and expend a lot of energy, time and resource in doing so. Furthermore, the flexibility that they are so proud of is not benefiting the Customer but is instead assisting Colleagues who have been let down as a result of a Process failing due to Ill-Discipline. The result is that the Organisation is neither flexible, nor have the Individuals any time to be creative.
Additionally, as in the example that incited this article, additional Processes and sub-Processes are often created to work-around the correct Process, with unofficial SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and Work Instructions being created and different parts of the Organisation working in their own ways, which seems to make sense to them. The worst part is that these are very often Processes that are re-Work loops and add no value to the Customer and, to compound this, Process Improvement Initiatives 'automate' the process with IT or Robotic solutions to make it more efficient. However, as Drucker once said:
So, just like the Old Woman who tried to solve the Problem of the swallowed fly through the addition of other Animals further up the Food Chain, many Organisations spend a considerable amount of time adding non-Value Added Processes to 'Solve' the problems in their existing Processes. However, this is frequently disingenuous, as by instead getting to the true Root Cause of the issue, putting in place countermeasures and applying Discipline around the execution of the Process Standards, the Organisation can deliver High Performance, better flexibility due to shorter lead-times and free up the time of its Employees to be creative.
The reality is that ill-Discipline creates significant complexity, whilst Discipline provides Simplicity in an Organisation, which most are greatly in need of.
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