Monthly Archives: July 2009

Are You Prepared to Practice 3-Dimensional Process?

The process world is entering a period of disruptive change. Companies have tapped out most of the major process improvement opportunities in manufacturing. And in the U.S., less than 10% of employees still work in manufacturing. Accordingly, process attention is shifting towards office/service (O/S), where opportunities abound. Tough to change focus so radically, but even tougher because 90%+ of process professionals practice either Lean or Six Sigma, both inside-out, manufacturing-based process approaches.

Can practitioners take a crowbar to one or both to make them O/S-ready? They’ve tried, with only limited success with Lean, and less with Six Sigma? Why? Because manufacturing process has only one dimension – “how” work is performed. Production engineers determine “what” work is done and “who” does it before process engages. But in the O/S, not only must process design determine “what” work gets done and “who” does it, but process design also determines the enabling technology required. Both Lean and SS lack the requisite tools for determining two of the three dimensions, and the most important two in the O/S. Automation technology is determining more and more of the “how.” And neither Lean nor SS can deliver up comprehensive technology requirements.

Clearly, we need to start adopting 3-dimensional process approaches. That’s well within the realm of the possible using outside-in, but it’s well nigh impossible with inside-out. If you’re part of the 90+% practicing inside-out process with Lean or Six Sigma, what’s your next move–fight or switch?

[This is the type content we’re discussing in the new, Outside-In Process subgroup of the BP Group. Please join. ]

Postscript:  afrer long and stimulating Linkedin discussion thread started by this post in several groups, we’ve decided to elevate “technology” to a “fourth dimension.” Lots of folks believe that failure to integrate process and technology is responsible for many of the shortcomings of inside-out process.