Eddie shares the story of an earnest cow that achieves a desired outcome but fails to be efficient. This story teaches us a lot about how some poor business processes come to be.
- Next time you encounter a poor business process, consider this story. A smart and earnest cow is given a job. The customer says, "Cow, go drink water." The cow looks to you for guidance. You don't have any great answers. You simply know that the water is in this direction. The cow walks in that direction, it encounters a mountain, it turns. It encounters a fence, it turns again.
Determined, it continues to seek success in its task. It continues to look for water. Again, it turns, and lo and behold, it gets to the water. Success. The customer is so satisfied and happy that it tells everyone about the awesome cow that drank water. The next day there's a line of people dying to see the cow drink water. The business process is successful, and now demand has grown.
The cow is smart, the cow knows there must be a better way to get to the water. But trying something new could mean failure. It might frustrate the customers and upset the boss. So the cow just continues to follow the same path. It's not very efficient but it's effective. Sometimes this is how bad processes are born. Think about what happens one day when the cow finds a better job.
A new cow will be hired. The new cow follows the old path. Have you ever gotten a new job and wondered, why do they do things this way? Well, perhaps you too were following a cow path. Sometimes we're the first cow. We're asked to solve a problem quickly. We develop a process in the moment. It's not perfect but it works. Maybe it works too well. Now we don't have the time and resources to redesign it.
We're stuck with our effective but inefficient business process. Sometimes we're the second cow, following an inefficient process because that's what they told us to do. We rationalize it by saying things like, "They've worked here a long time. "They must know what they're doing." Or maybe you just want to keep the peace and not make a fuss. So, what did the cow teach us? A bad business process might be the result of a new need, not a bad process design.
Good results don't always indicate a process is good. An effective business process isn't necessarily efficient, and an inefficient business process can limit our growth, and will likely frustrate employees and customers. Also, when learning a new process, ask questions. Being curious might help you better understand a good business process, or it might help managers realize that there's an opportunity for improvement.
Look around your organization. How many cow paths do you see?
- Recognize examples of assumptions in bad business processes.
- Recall which mindset leads companies to keeping business processes that worked previously but will not work in the future.
- Identify two key characteristics of a new business process.
- Determine if a block in a block diagram is out of place.
- Explain the advantage of using a flowchart when introducing an improved process to stakeholders.
- Summarize the importance of gap analysis.
- List the order in which you should present information when showing your new business process to stakeholders.
- Name two items you must provide to a client when a plan is ready to be approved.