Be a Chief Improvement Officer

October 23, 2014 by

Everyone can be a CIO.

Most of us could rattle off any number of process changes that would make us happier employees and would provide better service to the customers (internal and/or external). So what are we doing about it?

Here’s a secret: No matter how good your organization is, it can be better. Successful companies don’t wake up one day and say “OK. We’re perfect. We can hang out and binge-watch ‘Game of Thrones’ now.”

Here’s another secret: This is what most managers think processes within their organizations look like –blog4aOften, here’s what the process really is (yes, this is an exaggeration, but I think you’ll get it):

blog4bIf a process is spaghetti, employees get burnt-out trying to work within bureaucratic pasta. Customers are unhappy at best, leave at worst, and either way, complain (therefore throwing more work into the system trying to resolve complaints). And sadly, the tangle is often automated by systems who were designed to enable ‘paving the cow paths’ – which just makes bad, inefficient stuff happen a bit faster. Filling out the same form online that was done on paper years ago and routes it through the same labyrinth is not progress. It’s just lipstick on a pig.

So maybe a process that is causing pain for you, and affecting customer satisfaction could go from spaghetti to tidy blocks:

flow chart with symmetrical boxes and shapesWho is responsible to get to a tidy set of blocks? You are. Create a “coalition of the willing” that wants to delight the customer. Bring in business process redesign experts to help you build expertise. Create a culture of “yes we can.” I’ve listed some helpful and/or thought-provoking resources below.


Suggested resources:

The Lean Six Sigma Pocket Toolbook: A Quick Reference Guide to 100 Tools for Improving Quality and Speed by Michael L. George, John Maxey, David Rowlands, and Mark Price

The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World’s Greatest Manufacturer by Jeffrey Liker

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni


It’s still Cyber Security Month. In between picking out a costume and eating candy, change your passwords and read this:

Over 60% of Internet traffic is not driven by humans. Yet, over 4 billion people still don’t have access to the Internet.

Great articles in Forbes on tools for not letting toxic people get the better of you.

Long live the slide rule. A neat article examining icons of the classroom. Thanks, NPR.


One response to “Be a Chief Improvement Officer”

  1. Absolutely! One shouldn’t wait for a title or a position to lead and provide value to others. Second great point you made is to re-imagine and redesign the processes, don’t simply digitize them. Great post!

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