In my previous jobs, I’ve learned and used several different process improvement models. But none was quite what I was looking for, probably because my path has been a little unique. That uniqueness has taught me things that I have cataloged over time. Change has been part of my career ever since my days as an Industrial Engineer. My job was and still is continuous process improvement. I am now hard-wired with that mindset.
I have always known that change causes discomfort. To be honest, I personally don’t enjoy change, but I know it is the only path to improvement. However, the benefit of change must outweigh the discomfort caused by making the change.
I’d often come home from the factory at the end of the day and, when asked how my day was, would say “I made a lot of people uncomfortable.” The reason was that my job required that I constantly make changes (I preferred to call them “improvements”). My job was to observe the organization, assembly line, and inspect raw materials and finished products, and ask people “Why?” Why we manufactured products the way we did and in the order we did. Why we chose our raw materials, and why we inspected our products. Then, we discussed how we could change this process for the better, taking not the traditional path, but the optimal one.
Nearly 8 years ago, we needed to identify and prioritize the areas of biggest impact for improvement by baselining our organizational capabilities, then establishing policies that allowed us to achieve our goals and determine objectives of quality and service.
I have noticed over the years at many different assignments within organizations I have established a familiar pattern of process improvement similar to CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) which was a process improvement framework for organizations to assess and improve their processes. It involved the following five stages:
Stage 1: Reference point of organizational capabilities – We find disorder, some chaos, lack of data and a “please don’t ask” mentality.
Stage 2: Operational foundation – We identify the tools that contain useful data or begin to utilize tools that will supply the necessary data.
Stage 3: Stabilization mode – We begin the process of collecting, analyzing, and producing metrics to determine a baseline for improvement and process documentation.
Stage 4: Enhancement – We utilize the metrics gathered and analysis made to set goals to achieve continuous process improvement through consistent execution and improved delivery following the ITIL guidelines.
Stage 5: Technical maturity – Digital transformation that is business defined and technology delivered.
In the technology phase of my career, I moved to ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) which is the de-facto standard for IT services management. The United Kingdom's CCTA (Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency) recognized the need to provide a high level of IT services by applying consistent practices across the entire IT service lifecycle and released ITIL v1 in 1989. Which is strange, because when I was sent to Basildon, England, they had never heard of it. Maybe that answers why I was sent in the first place.
I have noticed over the years at many different assignments within organizations I have established a familiar pattern of process improvement terminology that I am going to call the “EdTIL.”
- If you have to ask, it needs a change ticket.
- If it’s not working, put in an Incident Request.
- If you want something, put in a Service Request.
- If you’re on the right track, the train won’t run you over.
- The most important thing to document in a Problem ticket is how to prevent a reoccurrence.
- Don’t focus too long on analysis of an issue. We can fail to the second data center in less than 1 min.
- Focus on simply returning to a stable state.
- If you have only one instance, you have none.
- Each day an application is down, it loses money. Even in the public sector.
- It is when things break that reminds you that you have an important job.
- Focus on the basics, then the shiny objects.
- Avoid technology looking for a problem.
- Our State runs on technology, but it’s diminished without good customer service.
- Always replace “End of Life” and “End of Support” technology before it becomes an emergency.
- Buy, don’t build. Configure, don’t customize.
- Always begin a project with the end in mind.
- What problem are we trying to solve?
- It’s not rocket surgery.
As always, I appreciate your hard work and respect for the taxpayers of the State of Nebraska, which you show each and every day.