I sat down this morning to look at a mid-tier firm's existing New Business Intake process - with the intention of having a starter 'transformed' process documented for them in a matter of a couple of hours.
Current Analysis Paralysis - Not a Good Starting Point
Before digging in, I read my email - and quickly find an email that goes something like this from a law firm - "We know we have to change our process, but we are still working on documenting our current processes." Immediately I go into the 'no, don't do it!' mantra, because I know how much time, money and effort they will waste by focusing on current state, versus the transformation of their processes. But at the same time, I know they do this because they believe if they don’t, something will get missed and they’ll be left with gaps. So, I'm constantly looking for new ways to relate for them why a focus on the future, not the current state, is a substantially more effective approach.
Transforming Business Process Is Just Like a Remodel of Your Home
So today, it occurred to me...what if firms could see that business process transformation is like remodeling their house? Let's say you want to remodel the main floor of your house. What might that look and feel like?
Why a Remodel?
First and foremost, there must be reasons you want to take on the project. These might be a mixture of increased usability, financial and risk mitigation. Something like this:
- Usability - The rooms are too closed. We can't see the kids when we are in the kitchen cooking. We aren't getting the best use of our space right now, we think we could actually increase the usable space if we had a more open floorplan.
- Risk - There's been some water damage and we think we are going to need to go up into the ceiling and roof to fix it. Seems like while we are there, we might as well use the opportunity to make improvements at the same time. The stove isn't properly vented right now either, which is concerning.
- Financial - This remodel would substantially increase the resale value of our home. In the short-term, I think it would help us get a better refi, and we'll save energy costs as well, because we can put in more energy-efficient windows and appliances.
What and How Much?
Next, you need to know what you would need to spend, and what your remodeled house would look and feel like in the end.
- No one in the family is an architect, so we'd better get a good one to help us.
- We arrange for them to come over and consult with us, take a look around - and eventually draw up for us what our remodeled home will look like and outline for us the associated break-down of costs.
Go or No-Go?
Now armed with knowledge of what 'could be' and what it would cost, you need to decide whether to go forward or not.
- Does the remodeled floor plan sufficiently meet our outlined needs (or even exceed our expectations because the experts pointed out things we never even considered - after all, they do this on multiple homes every year - so they see and hear a lot more from home owners than we do)
- What is the estimated cost - is it worth it? Can we afford to do it all at once, or can we break it up into more feasible chunks? What is the return-on-investment we expect in the short and long term. Is that enough to move us forward?
- What will life be like for our family during the remodel. Do we have to move out, or cook on a hotplate in the living room for a while? How long? Can we handle it?
- We talk to some friends that have remodeled and get the real-life low-down on what it was like and whether they felt it was worth it in the end.
- Finally - we have a family meeting and reach our 'Go-No-Go decision'. We picture yourselves in that new, open and spacious floor plan and we agree 'Let's do it!'
The Focus is on What You Will Have AFTER the Remodel!
Now, let's think about where in the above thought process the CURRENT DESIGN OF YOUR HOUSE gets considered:
- By you - when you are figuring out what works and doesn't work for you and your family right now. How long does it really take you to think about this? Probably not very long...you live there every day, and already know what you love about your house and what is frustrating or could be better for you.
- By the architect - architects know that their designs have to be realistic. They can't just throw out any design of your home they want - they have to work with what you've already got in place. Where are the support beams, pipes and wiring, what are your preferences in terms of maintaining current fixtures, etc. That said, where do they spend most of their time? On the TO-BE design.
- In the budgeting and planning - the cost break-down will naturally include the components that have to change - and will identify what changes will take more money and time than others.
So clearly, the current layout and architecture of your home gets thoroughly considered at every step of the above process...but where is the majority of the FOCUS spent? On the 'To-Be' - what your REMODELED HOME would look like.
Business process transformation is no different. Your time and effort has to be on the future process, not the current. You don't have to, nor should you, spend focus time on documenting current process. Instead, you should be going through the process of transformation - and the current state will naturally make itself known all the way through. Oh, and just like with your remodel - unless you are an experienced business process transformation architect, you should bring an expert in to help you envision that to-be so they can bring you industry-wide and developing best practices and guide you safely through the transition.
If you want to experience accelerated transformation without getting caught in 'current state analysis paralysis', participate in an Elegrity iPOW (Interactive Process Optimization Workshop). We offer one-of-a-kind law firm process transformation workshops that accomplish more in 6 hours than what most firms are accomplishing in a period of weeks, or worse, months of time. Let us help you and your firm get a real understanding of that remodel! We will arm you with all the information you need to make safe, informed decisions without wasting time and money along the way.