Pretty much every day that goes by the issue of gaps and ‘black holes’ in business processes crops up when I am working with my clients.

What do I mean by ‘black holes’?

You know those times when your business process breaks down, or becomes stuck (or gets abandoned!) because of a design flaw? That’s what I am talking about.

There can be a number of issues that cause one of these gaps appear, including:

  • Decision making that can’t cope with all of the options.
  • Delays that aren’t tracked and items get lost.
  • Lack of instruction and training, preventing people from understanding the process.
  • Poor design at the outset, leading to a ‘Wild West’ approach to operating the process.
  • Ineffective management of the process.
  • Informality with the process itself.
  • Change management that is too slow, or doesn’t work effectively.
  • A process that accepts the wrong kinds of inputs (that ends up breaking the process at a later step).
  • Holiday / sickness cover that hasn’t been thought through.

I’m sure that you can add to this list, but the point is this – are your team working with their eyes open to these kinds of issues (or are they putting up with the status quo)?

Use this list to help improve your business processes, checking off the elements that you know are OK. If you have anything left over then please come up with a plan to remove them.

Having to think your way out of one of these black holes can take a lot of effort and can introduce a lot of delays into your business processes. Trying to eliminate them upfront by thinking through the types of issues I have shared here is far more efficient in the long run (not to mention far more effective).

A good flow chart is often all you need to think through your processes and avoid these problems. So, if you recognise the above problems get your team together, use this post as a checklist and start drawing your next flow chart!




Giles Johnston

Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who consults with businesses to improve their productivity and on time delivery performance. Giles is also the author of What Does Good Look Like? and the co-creator of the StreamLiner business improvement software program.