In my experience, businesses and organizations are only as successful as their procedures.
Having re-written procedures before, it becomes easier for me to recognize where problems have occurred, and then look for possible solutions. Sometimes, my solutions are not well-received, while other times, they are. I have found that there are five key features for finding the right procedures.
1. Listen to the Experts
Those that have been using the existing procedures are more aware of what does and does not work. You, as the procedure writer, may look at how equipment is set up or spaced out and think that it is inefficient (takes up too much space, hard to plug in to power, etc.); however, the people using that equipment may have it set up that way because it is easier to go from task A to task B. Listen to the experts before making drastic changes.
2. Gain your own Opinion
Reading or hearing about a procedure is very different from experiencing a procedure. If you have been tasked with finding a new and/or more efficient procedure, you will not be successful if you haven’t seen it with your own eyes, or done it with your own hands. Take the time to experience existing procedures before offering a solution.
3. Look for Dissent
I believe that change of any kind is going to receive some kind of dissent. You created a new procedure because the existing one had problems, and if you refuse to hear about new problems, the procedure will never be the best it can be. Listen to those who don’t agree with your procedure or who find fault in it – they may be wrong, but then again, they may be right (definitely hearing Billy Joel’s “You May be Right” in my head right now…).
4. Use the Scientific Method
Only change one thing at a time. If you make too many changes all at once, it will become almost impossible to determine what was and/or what was not an improvement. In addition, that change needs to be measured over time before it can be proven as an im“prove”ment. If you come up with something amazing that everyone agrees with and implements, but then forgets to do a month or so down the road, that improvement would be considered a failure.
5. Constant Evolution
Your procedure will never be perfect, it needs to constantly evolve. Reasons behind this could be new equipment, new employees, new ideas, or even just new technology. If you stop making improvements, your procedure will not survive long-term.
Bonus: Procedure Enforcement
Your procedures mean nothing if they are not followed or enforced by those who are using it. Find a way to entice people into using the new procedure (punishment for not using it, rewards for using it).