Process Improvement is Idling while Process Survival is Dominant
Business models are like pendulums they swing back and forth with differing thoughts and traits like centralized versus de-centralized, vertical or matrix organizational structures or even vertical versus outsourcing the landscape seems to constantly changing. However, recently due to Covid the pendulum has swung even more aggressively and where it settles has yet to be seen.
The main consequence is that Process owners adapted processes towards survival not necessarily with a focus on sustainable improvement and I get it.
Let me state Lean Methodologies are not dead they are just taking a sabbatical for the moment. This is about to change since ultimately the Market will define the market model they desire and the Market always has a laser focus on value.
The Process Survival started with Covid. Instantly the hospitality Industry shut, restaurants closed, hotel occupancy plummeted and airlines saw travel drop by 90%. But like in Physics there was an equal but opposite reaction, Grocery Stores saw sales soar, Home improvement and mainly Office Supply and furniture sales. surged as people pivoted to work from home. Of course during this part of the pendulum swing we saw certain business model emerge or blossom ... the e-commerce of home delivery of groceries, meal kits, surge in take-out foods as people were willing to sacrifice value for convenience.
It is important that the total amount of food consumption did not change just the channel of consumption did as restaurant venues were restricted Food Service sales declined accordingly as the consumer shifted their spend to grocery retailers, meal kits or use of Uber Eats or Skip the dishes. Even or grocery retailers joined in the game by offering more options of Ready To Eat options (RTE) to supplement traditional sales. Many organizations became drunk on significant increased positive cash flows.
The other significant enhancement was the acceptance and capability of technology. No longer unique we all quickly adapted to using Video Conferencing, Zoom and other media platforms to stay connected ... but it expanded beyond business relationships and creeped into our personal lives as we now entertained Birthdays, Christmas and other festivities by connecting with friends and family through a virtual platform.
The Survival Process development was definitely prominent during this envelope of coping with the unusual situation ... and what we all thought may be a 2 week tolerance quickly morphed into a new lifestyle requirement.
Now the pendulum is swinging again as Covid restrictions are lifted and the world shifts again but now heavily spiced with inflation.
We are still in the midst of filtering our "Musts" and "Wants" and organizations are struggling to find the new datum. As people became accustomed to not have to commute to work and enjoyed working from home that "Want" has almost blurred into a "Must" as they seek either a continuance or a reluctant Hy-Bred model. But we as humans are social creatures that operate best in a collaborative environment, something in spite of best efforts virtual platforms could not provide.
Commercial rental and sales are once again on the increase as business recognize the need to have their employees to congregate within a common physical envelope.
Remember that always ... The Market will dictate the success of a business and how it perceives how that business is contributing Value to the equation. As a result of inflation people are now still shifting away from Restaurant dining (although it has comeback significantly) but priority of using Meal Kits, Concierge serving of groceries and meals is starting to wane. People want to personally see what they intend to eat instead of instigating a blind virtual selection. But now it has gotten even more severe where people are avoiding traditional retailers and visiting low cost providers. Meal Plans are now being designed around what is on sale rather that what would you like.
Of course with all of these business shifts can only be accomplished through people. So now we also have people shifting as our business pendulum swings again. Ultimately people still need cash to provide for food on the table and a roof over their heads. The shifts are happening in anticipation of when and where the pendulum will stop swinging and being in the right place.
So as we shift again the Survival Process development is still dominant within our business environments as organizations attempt to anticipate and forecast what is the new normal going to look like.
The Pendulum will start to swing slower with a decreased amplitude but one factor will remain ... The Market will still define Value.
This is when Survival Process development will be replaced by Process Improvement. Especially for those organizations that intend to get ahead of the curve to be leader in providing Value.
So I get it, when an Organization is immersed in Survival Process development they are only minimally concerned about Process Improvement and if you are also facing a shortage of staff it also then becomes an expediential challenge to divert resources to be trained and have them spend time on Process Improvement.
Ultimately you may not be able afford to invest in Process Improvement but simultaneously you cannot afford not to invest in Process Improvement. Guess what? Those organizations that do decide to invest in Process Improvement will be the sector winners within their category.