December 4, 2020 Last updated December 4th, 2020 1,015 Reads share

Flawed Processes and Uncertainty Hurts People; It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way

Image Credit: DepositPhotos

Reviewing flawed or dated processes is one of the five essential activities that businesses must do to help remove uncertainty and support effective business planning.

What are the other four activities, have a look at my blog post from the 5th October 2020?

Don’t Talk, Act. Don’t Say, Show. Don’t Promise, Prove

I have a real concern that many organizations are publically stating their intent to support staff wellbeing during these difficult times, but talk is easy.

If organizations are operating a business with flawed processes, for me this doesn’t match their caring talk; inadequate processes not only increase costs but also reduce productivity and provide inconsistently or rubbish service to customers, they can hurt people.

Where Do Flawed Processes Come From?

Let’s be kind; no one sets out to design or operate a flawed process, but yet they do. I suggested these may occur because, either:

  1. They were poorly developed at the outset, not matching the needs of the business, employees, and customers.
  2. The initial process or project implementation was not managed or controlled; new processes were not ‘adopted’ by the staff or management teams, the result they are virtually ignored.
  3. Over time they have become irrelevant to the business, but the staff is still bound to follow the original workflow, maybe due to a legacy system?
  4. 101 other reasons.
  5. Existing processes do not support current COVID work practices, i.e. remote working.

 “I want to spend more time reviewing my processes”,

– No Business Owner, Ever.

Sometimes it’s a cultural thing; managing processes is seen as a dull, bureaucratic, inflexible, expensive, and generally a rather unglamorous activity.

Unglamorous, sometimes I grant you. Not enabling the business to achieve its objectives and support people, absolutely not.

Flawed Processes Hurt People

A bold statement, and yet it happens, I believe employees are ‘hurt’ when they become conflicted, and the flawed or bad process can conflict people, have you seen these examples:

  1. the process says X, the manager or system/tool says Y, what is the ‘right’ thing to do, or ‘less bad’ thing to do?
  2. the process doesn’t support the needs of the staff, i.e. provide the data required to support a decision or provide sufficient information to help customers and answer their questions
  3. the process outputs are inconsistent; employees have no confidence in the information they are making decisions on or sharing with customers, compounded if the customer has their name and holds them to account.

In these uncertain times and with so much rapid change, how many flawed or irrelevant processes are out there? Assuming there are iffy processes, what’s the damage to been caused to people right now.

My Test of a Process, How Would I Feel if I Had To Use It?

It’s a simple test, but imagine how you might feel if you had to use a horrendously broken process, and this was the reality of your daily work life. The process breaks and I feel continually conflicted, let down, and embarrassed by other parts of the business, and no one listens or wants to help me.

You might feel, angry, powerless, not valued or listened to, fed up, depressed, I could go on. What would you do then, find a workaround, complain loudly, take it out in work colleagues or customers, leave, or struggle and suffer?

In reality, it doesn’t matter why or how a process has become irrelevant, outdated, or redundant. What matters is recognizing that a process has become irrelevant, obsolete, or redundant before the damage to employee and business occurs.

Another Perspective, It’s Just Bad Business

If the damage to people isn’t enough, how about the broader impacts of a flawed process. Poor employee engagement, low staff morale, and high attrition.

All in all, then, broken processes are both bad for business and bad people.

Imagine if Fear, Worry, and Anger Was Replaced by Optimism

Fix the flawed processes with business improvement thinking and structure. Just to be clear, business improvement isn’t a magic pill, it requires courage and hard work. Business problems will still exist and need to be resolved.

The difference is employees having the confidence that the need for change is recognized, and that the identified and implemented changes are the right ones. This sense of been heard creates optimism is hugely energizing.


Right now, how could a dose of optimism re-energize your business?

Support the People Using the Flawed Processes

A few simple suggestions to help you uncover flawed processes:

  1. Think about the current, maybe ad hoc flow of work, or end to end, and check, how is it currently working? What pain points are experienced by whom, when and why? Take care; the loudest noise is not always the biggest problem
  2. Boost staff morale, ask the teams, it feels great when people listen to what you have to say
  3. When reviewing and designing processes and systems place people at the core of the design think, ‘People Use Processes’

Finally, Consider This

Not Supporting People Has Real Costs

Not only is it wrong, but it’s also bad business. Flawed processes will impact an organization’s productivity, create high attrition, low staff morale, and increase the cost base, leading to unhappy customers.

Supporting People Has Real Benefits

Not only is it right, but it’s good business. Supporting people by maintaining, innovating, and listening to feedback is also energizing for the business, helping to create enhanced employee engagement, trust, and a happier, healthier environment.

I Need Your Help

I am on a mission to find ways to communicate the benefits that business improvement brings without business jargon.

What are the worst jargon words you have come across check out my jargon-busting page?

How does your organization describe the business or continuous improvement, is it more than just talking processes? What the topics that help senior managers value business improvement? What success stories do you have?

Why All the Questions?

Finding the right language will help to promote the benefits of ‘business improvement’, lets release people from flawed ways of working to a more productive, happier and healthier workplace.

Uncertainty Green Road Sign Over Storm Clouds -DepositPhotos

Simon Ruscoe

Simon Ruscoe

Read Full Bio