Sometimes improvements aren’t necessary

As a French citizen living in the US, I’m legally bound to read Le Monde, the closest thing we have to a French national newspaper. In a great story today, the paper talked about the ‘ecce homo’ (behold the man) painting of Jesus that was ‘lovingly’ restored by a well-meaning, 80-year-old woman, Cecilia Giménez, living next to a church in Borja, Spain.

This often happens to business process as well and can have a profoundly negative impact on the view of future change. The painting by Elías García Martínez is a classic. It was recognized around the world for its brush strokes and human expression.

Sure, it wasn’t perfect after moisture took its toll. But maybe the first criteria for change should be, “Does it still do what it needs to do?” The answer in this case was, “Yes.” Even damaged, it was inspirational. ‘Fixed’, it has little value.

Not to be outdone by the 80-year-old, a Spanish artist created his prediction of what happens in the next round of improvements. See below. 

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Categories: Continuous Improvement, Process Management

Author:Jeanne Roué-Taylor

I'm fascinated by disruptive technology and its impact on our world. I manage sales operations for an excellent startup with a unique team of highly experienced data scientists.

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4 Comments on “Sometimes improvements aren’t necessary”

  1. Max
    August 22, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

    Maybe it is not the “improvement” itself being the culprit but the person implementing the improvement. The lesson learned would be: “Next time get a professional to do the job if you want to get it done right.”

  2. August 23, 2012 at 12:40 am #

    I’m now torn between the restored piece and your interpretation…..although I’m laughing as I’ve never seen JC look so annoyed before….he’s obviously been involved in a failed process improvement programme.

  3. August 23, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    Indeed, sometimes improvements are not necessary. Yes, everyone should be constructively dis-satisfied with the current status quo especially if the outcomes of the processes don’t satisfy the needs or wants of the customer. But, the premise of process improvement is to change for process sake, not for change sake. I believe that a lot of modern employees are caught up in the cycle of constant change with no clear goal or outcome in mind; not the output of continuous improvement. Process Improvement has a series of clear steps associated: Process Documentation, Process Analysis, Business Case Building (project charter & perhaps requirements), Review/Approval, Prioritizing and Implementation. Process Documentation, if done the way that I am used to seeing it, has a parent level, with details embedded in the child, the grandchild and the great-grandchild level in order to reflect the enterprise process, the function’s process and the frontline person’s process respectively. I submit that what ‘changes’ on a weekly, even daily basis are the transactions done on the most detailed level (frontline person). If the change involves changes business rules (day-to-day transactions), those are easily implemented by the involved parties and minimally disruptive to the end-to-end enterprise process. Once the process improvement impacts other functions or change the enterprise’s processes overall, then the team must turn to Process Analysis and the building of a business case for change. But in this economic era and with such transparency of process to the customer base, changes on these levels are less likely to occur even on the minimal of a consistent basis. As with process modeling, process improvement (changes) should start with the end in mind, such as new services/products offerings, fixing customer issues, new implementations, and a clear idea what the improvement output will be. Then, just follow the process map (yellow brick) road

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