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Change performance and mitigate risk

By: Belia Nel, Founder & CEO of Improvid Performance Specialists, and  Certified Performance Technologist

Change performance and mitigate risk

In the next decade, more than a third of jobs won’t need a human to do them. As Alan Hosking writes “Unless you’ve just returned from a long stint on Mars, you will be very familiar with all the talk, articles, presentations and workshops that are shouting out the same message: Big changes are coming and they’re unprecedented in terms of their scope, impact and magnitude (read full article here).”

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The future workplace…

The automation of processes will unfortunately mean that the basic tasks people perform will be taken over by robots (with associated job losses).  Some of the implications could be:

  • Automation will play a huge role in determining which “jobs” are relevant and whether repetitive tasks can be removed. Robots will do predictable work, nevertheless, it’s important to remember that creativity and innovation cannot be replicated (just yet!).
  • When contact centres were first introduced, they focused on the wrong side of the value chain. Employees should be placed above customers, because they are the source of innovation and value in any organisation. In other words: Flip the value chain.  This is also true for the monsters of back offices that mushroomed due to risk and compliance issues.
  • “Human” will be the new word and focus for organisations. Rohit Talwar writes in 20 Predictions for 2017“The corporate sector and many governments continued to adopt a somewhat cautious approach to the use of disruptive technologies such as block chain and AI. Those who are pursuing expensive digital transformation projects began to see that their technology initiatives were eliminating the distinguishing human element and effectively commodifying everything they do. They began to learn that digital differentiation is impossible to maintain and that their strategies were almost identical to their competitors.”
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(You can read more how you can prepare for the changing workplace in 8 steps to focus on in a volatile world).

What does this mean for your business?

The challenge of cost-saving, mitigating risk, improving value contribution and sustainability of performance in any area of the business is becoming increasingly important given potential rapid process automation (RPA).  Very often one or some parts in the value chain are highlighted for attention, particularly in highly-regulated environments and industries. However, it’s good practice, if not essential, to regularly audit allelements to identify and confirm the value of their contribution to the organisation.

The benefits of flipping the value chain!

The Human Performance Improvement practice of systems thinking supports a performance-based “double C” approach that starts with the customer and ends with the customer. Consider the following:

  • Customer What are the actual current and future business needs of customers?  Are we delivering what they are expecting? Is it aligned with our strategic direction?
  • Conditions: What are the conditions and changes in the environment and the performance landscape that will impact sustainable results and performance?  Do we presently focus enough on the future? A conundrum indeed, but it has relevance for staying current.
  • Outcomes: What should sustainably be delivered and achieved for customers?
  • Input: What is needed for sustainable outcomes? Do you have the innovative strategies and resources, particularly the right talent and are you focusing on the “human” as indicated in Bersin 2017 Predictions?
  • Process: How will the sustainable outcomes be achieved? Do you have the right systems in place? How important is technology? Is your focus on technology too little or too much?
  • Consequences: How will holistic performance be managed?  What are the feedback loops? How will the sustainable results be measured?
  • Customer: Have sustainable results and business needs been achieved and addressed?  Are you retaining existing and attracting new customers?  Are your strategies aligned with the future?

Performance Improvement, as a practice, is based on systems thinking which simply means any performance in a value chain happens in a 

holistic way and the system is dependent on it components for delivering value and performance to the customer, first and foremost. Organisational, operational and people factors should therefore be aligned for risk-free impact on the entire value chain.

The first four International Standards for Performance Improvement has particular relevance when flipping the value chain:

  1. Focus on results and outcomes by taking the risk profile into consideration.
  2. Identify and view any performance and risk systemically: Align all the sub-systems and all the elements in the value chain that will impact performance.
  3. Add value to all the areas of work without placing too much emphasis on the activities of any particular element in the value chain.
  4. Work in partnership: Include all stakeholders to minimise risk and maximise performance and value in the total value chain. 
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