The Process Approach – What’s In It For Me?

John Seddon has been promoting Systems Thinking for years – I’ve been following him for nearly 30 years now and I’ve used the Vanguard Method approach to management system design since the early 2000s. A number of Federal Departments in Ottawa still have them in place. This post is based on the last part of his ‘Vanguard Tactics for Getting Started’, referring to ‘Systems Thinking’

When it comes to looking for ways to improve how we deliver on our customer requirements, ISO 9001 has been promoting ‘the Process Approach’ since the 2000 version came out. Processes, of course, make up systems. So to get started at measuring and monitoring, let’s look at the age-old model of ‘The Process Approach’:

Seddon suggests asking questions around inputs like…

  • Is it OK to work on?
  • Is this what the customer wants?
  • Is this a demand caused by not doing something right previously?
  • Where does it go from here?
  • Is it urgent?

Then on to Process…

  • How is the work designed?
  • How effective is this process?
  • What needs to be done?
  • Can we do it?
  • Is everyone capable?

And finally output…

  • Is it right?
  • Is it on time?
  • Is there any waste?
  • Is it what we promised to the customer?
  • Did we make it easy for the customer to deal with us?
  • Will the customer use us again or buy more?

For all three, look for ways to improve the system at all stages. Try to develop measures that will tell you about end-to-end performance (Also see Taiichi Ohno The Toyota Production System for some ideas) and measures that you can implement for steps within the process.

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