Designing Processes That Work

When you start designing a process, what do you aim for?

You might think the answer is obvious, but it’s not. A process can try to be the most efficient at what it’s doing (speed/time/cost), or robust enough to handle exceptions with grace (think: moments of truth), or just be a “process” – a set of rules, where none existed before.

The tradeoffs we choose, matter…

A text message might be the best solution for one situation because it’s instant, easily digestible, cheap and convenient.

However, a hand-written thank-you note on high-quality paper, FedEx’ed overnight from the other side of the world is way more effective than an email because of the discretionary effort and expense involved.

… But most improvements are neither efficient enough to be noticeably more effortless than alternatives, nor inefficient in a way that conveys discretionary effort, thoughtfulness or attention to detail.

Matt Watkinson, LinkedIn

I’ve seen many organizations put words like ‘Customer First’ in their Vision and Values posters. Some even commit resources to the CX function, by staffing up a team dedicated to improving Customer Experience, and then asking them to lead a bunch of initiatives. But, when it comes down to it, most enterprises lack a clear understanding of what it means to do right by the customer.

And, unless that clarity informs the design of the processes inside, chances are the people that work there will only be able to do so much.

It’s not just CX – every function can benefit from doing this right. Here’s how you should ideally approach it…

Step 1 – Articulate clearly what you are trying to maximize for
Step 2 – Define when and how to deploy exception handling
Step 3 – Design your processes to accommodate both the above
Step 4 – Communicate this design to the people entrusted with delivery

Without it, a process is just another process.

With it, you get a powerful engine that helps you get closer to your goals.

Day 100 – Learning to Adapt

It is now 100 days since the #Covid19 lockdown first began in India.

A lot has happened since then…

We learned to #WFH, and to cope with the “new normal”.

We dealt with Technology challenges, and tried to find a quiet space in our homes – with a charging point nearby.

We coped with ever-changing rules and regulations in our cities, while running out of essentials in our neighbourhoods.

We managed year-end performance appraisals and organizational restructurings. And downsizings.

We learnt to celebrate our special occasions on Microsoft Teams and Zoom calls.

What most of us thought would only last weeks, is running well into the second-half of 2020.

But, we are coping. And learning. And thriving.

Yes, every situation is unique. Every city has its own problems. Every country is struggling to deal with the pandemic in its own ways.

Yes, the harshness (and necessity) of the #lockdown in India may not quite compare with that in Sweden or New Zealand.

But, we humans have an almost infinite capacity to adjust… and adapt.

So, we adapt, we must…

I am grateful to have a team at work that is committed and capable – it makes my day go a little bit easier.

I am grateful for the love and support of my family – it helps me keep the faith.

Day 28 – The Fight Continues

It’s only been a few months since I took up a new role at Aegon Life. Just a couple of weeks after joining Aegon, India launched a strict #lockdown protocol in response to the #Covid19 pandemic. Originally meant to last 21 days, it has now been extended in its second phase.

When the office moved to a work-from-home setup, I began a series of emails to address the extended team every week or so. The idea was to engage with them, thank them (and their families) for their continued dedication and hard work, and share with them helpful information from time to time.

Covid-19 is surely making a significant impact on India and the world. And, will probably change dynamics for a long time to come. But it doesn’t have to be all bad news. Does it?

Here are a few links from my emails that you may also find useful…

Lessons from Covid-19 that can make the world a better place:

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/view-lessons-from-covid-19-can-make-the-world-a-better-place/articleshow/75130671.cms

5 critical money lessons taught by the Covid-19 crisis:

https://www.financialexpress.com/money/5-critical-money-lessons-taught-by-the-covid-19-crisis/1934945/

Last week, the world also saw a global virtual concert in support of the WHO that featured performances from multiple celebrities and has raised over $127Mn. You may be able to view it online if you missed the broadcast. Alternatively, try this link:

https://www.voot.com/shows/one-world-together-at-home/1/936639/a-global-salute-to-the-real-heroes/936885

And, 8 Lessons from the Army on Leading Remotely during a Lockdown:

https://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/leading-remotely-lessons-from-the-army-120040200301_1.html

We are all learning to navigate the “new normal”. And it’s hard to stay cooped-up inside the house (especially in the India context), deal with daily home needs, and continue to deliver on work.

If you can find some ways to make it easier for the folks you interact with, I’d strongly urge you to do so.

We could all do with a helping hand, especially in times of crisis. Let’s do our best to help out those we can. Shall we?