Process Managers Guide: A Manual for Practical Process Improvement Program Practitioners, Instructors, and Coaches
by R. Edward Zunich
As the title of this book implies, Process Managers Guide: A Manual for Practical Process Improvement Program Practitioners, Instructors, and Coachesis designed to serve as a pragmatical manual for Practical Process Improvement (PPI) consultants, instructors, and other practitioners in the field of Business Process Improvement (BPI). The book itself provides a succinct overview of PPI theories and concepts, but primarily includes tools and resources for instructor-led seminars and recommended readings, making this an ideal read for beginning practitioners as well as those seeking new sources of knowledge.
The Three Questions & The Eight Step Method
Arguably, Zunich presents some of the most simple yet powerful tools for PPI in the first chapter of the book. With frequent references to the work of Dr. Walter Shewhart, deemed “the father of modern quality control,” and his protege, Dr. W. Edwards Deming, Zunich challenges the reader to answer three questions to reach an operational definition of continuous improvement efforts:
- What do you want to accomplish?
- How will we accomplish it?
- How will we know when we have accomplished it?
Further extending Dr. Deming's work on the “Plan-Do-Study-Act” (PDSA) model of problem solving, Zunich proposes an expanded eight step method for achieving process improvement:
Step 1: Mission Statement
This step takes shape based on responses to the three questions listed previously. Without these three points (i.e. a vision statement, a statement of methods and values, and a system of metrics, respectively), improvement efforts may not be successful.
Step 2: Current Processes
This step focuses on gathering data and examining the present state of processes. Basically, “Where are we today?”
Step 3: Simplify Process
Readers should look for often obvious “quick fixes” to eliminate waste and problems in current processes.
Step 4: Analyze the Data
Zunich provides some helpful strategies and recommended diagnostic and analytical tools for using collected data. He cautions the reader to be mindful of how data is collected: changing the method can change the data.
Step 5: Find Solution
Throughout the text, Zunich emphasizes the importance of developing data-driven solutions over opinion-based methods, such as brainstorming.
Step 6: Test Solution
This step calls for the use of the previously noted PDSA model to arrive at a practical process solution.
Step 7: Standardize Solution
Clearly defining, implementing, and monitoring new processes created efficient and sustainable improvements.
Step 8: Future Plans
Project teams – not standing committees– explore future recommendations for process improvement.
Practical Managers Guide: Instructor Resources & Seminar Guides
Staying true to its intended purpose and audience, over three-quarters of the book is devoted to teaching the theories, concepts, and models presented in the first few chapters. Approaches to adult learning theory and effective knowledge transfer are sprinkled throughout early chapters with instructional principles relevant for any training event. The easy to follow instructor notes list key concept takeaways and discussion topics to guide a process improvement training seminar. Provided exercises and scenarios help create a well-rounded instructional guide designed to maximize learning effectiveness.
The Process Managers Guide approaches BPI from a very logical and practical perspective, borrowing from the works of several well respected experts in the process improvement field. While not specifically addressed, the reader may see similarities to methodologies of Six Sigma and Lean, but presented in a simplified, more realistic way. Zunich's suggested reading list offers a variety of selected titles to provided more depth to the PPI discussion and specific concepts.
Reflection Questions: What are some of the most effective instructional strategies you've personally used or encountered when it comes to business process improvement? Are there any tools, resources, websites, videos, etc. that are your “go to” source of information on BPI?
Challenge the Way You Think About Work
Zunich, R.E. (2012). Process Managers Guide: A Manual for Practical Process Improvement Program Practitioners, Instructors, and Coaches. Hendersonville, NC: Summit Marketing Group.