1. Who should promote “Business improvement”?
‘What kind of person is good for being in charge of improvements?’
I was often asked the question about Personnel image of business improvement.In this article, let’s consider the ‘Talents’ which an employee in charge of promoting Business improvement should have. (in all seriousness…)
2. What is Business?
The word ‘ Business’ has a broad meaning.
In order to prepare the discussion about Business, I should define the meaning of the word itself.
2-1.Doing a search on the Internet about ‘Business’
Definition of Business:
- Usually a commercial or mercantile activity engaged as a means of livelihood. (from Merriam-Webster)
- Work that has to be done or matters that have to be attended to. (from Oxford dictionary)
- A person’s occupation, work, or trade. (from Wiktionary)
Hmmm… It is not easy to absorb… I do not understand comments that begin with “the business…” any better, even if I modify the search.
Although I have been working in the field of ‘Business Process Management’ for almost 5 years, I would say it is impossible to define ‘Business’ directly. First of all I want you to understand it as “something that is difficult to define in one word“.
2-2. Comparison between [Job] and [Business]
However, you can understand a word that is difficult to understand straight away, by comparing it with something similar (It’s also fun to do.)
I want you to try to quickly compare the two following. (Close your eyes and try saying it two or three times!)
- a1. ‘to do a job’
- a2. ‘to do business’
Hmmm. Now, you can notice there is a difference in nuance. [Business] used in the term of “Business improvement” seems to be #a2. Apparently, it conveys the need to improve “the way to proceed repeatedly”, rather than “how to do a Job”.
Next, try this…
- b1. ‘requesting a Job to be done’
- b2. ‘requesting a Business to be done’
Well, [Business] contains the meaning of ‘iteration’ more than [Job].
One more, the last one…
- c1. ‘entrusting a Job’
- c2. ‘entrusting Business’
I got it! #c2 is a ‘Business outsourcing’ or a ‘Subcontract’. In other words, it is not a kind of entrusted job that ends with one output.
2-3. Try to Enumerate the Phrases Using “Business”
In the same way we did the ‘comparison in 1-2’, try thinking about another 10 phrases or so, if possible.
Business outsourcing, Business subcontract, Business audit, Business Process…
Some people would think about ‘fluctuation in quality’ others would think about ‘variation of the work period’. [Business] is also related to ISO or QCD.
As the conclusion, now I declare in short.
[Business] is a ‘Repeating Job’
3. Talents that are Needed
It would take a long time enumerating the talents, skills and knowledge needed in a person who leads improvement activities. But if I dare to narrow it down, they will be the following three.
3-1. ‘Knowledge’ about the Business
Things are going on in the trenches. Only the people in the trenches know the business.
This is quite natural. For example, a man in a company orders the development of a Business system. Six months later the man will be cursing the system developers because ‘They don’t know anything about the business!’… Although this may happen often in the real world, they would never be able to fully understand…
- Are you going to re-do the specifications? No way! It will cost too much!
- Are you going to make a blueprint? No way! You can’t draw everything!
- Are you going to give up IT? No, you shouldn’t do that!
It is true that it takes guts to decide to go for the development of a Business system for a company. But it is also true that people who know about the business exist only inside the company.
3-2. ‘Mental Strength’ for Improvement Activity
‘Let’s change this office to be easier to use!’ Yeah! I agree!
‘Okay, you! Draw new layouts, please!’ Oh my god! I can’t do that…
Is it a problem of conscientiousness? Or is it a personality problem?… No, it’s not. Most people will hesitate to lead reform. Maybe, they need a couple of drinks that would give them courage.
Especially, for changing the flow of the business, you’ll need ‘a sense of fairness’. Or I’d better say the ‘ability of rational consideration’. But rather, to me, it is all about “motivation”. It is the “desire” to improve. Yes, you’ll need ‘Guts’! (Of course, having “knowledge of the business” is a major milestone.)
3-3. ‘Support’ from people around you
‘Ugh, whoever did this has no taste…’
‘Huh? Shouldn’t this desk be over there?’
Reform will be subject to criticism. However, it is not ill-intended. People are apt to give a “negative comment” before “a positive comment”, unconsciously.
‘Hey, my desk should be here!’
‘C’mon, a Sales person can’t be away from Accounting!’
Reform will be subject to claims. Individuals will try to protect their own interests, and long for status quo.
In other words, comments about ‘wanting to go back to the way it was before’ will come from various quarters whenever you change the flow of business. It will probably have the same results, even presenting the change proposal in advance and explaining in detail. But, you can’t be discouraged by the resistance. You are right, you have improved from an overall optimization point of view… Having said this, you’ll find yourself feeling discouraged, sometimes.
Eventually, the people around you will support you. People will be saying ‘I’ll try this, because that person insists on it.’. In other word, they will “follow your lead”.
Someone who promotes Business improvement is required “1. Knowledge”, “2. Mental Strength” and “3. Peer Support”.
Take a look around in your organization, and find somebody who possesses all these three, and ask him/her to be in charge of it.
(Don’t forget to recommend Questetra, the ‘Business Improving tool’…)