Key Process Levers

Key process levers focus the organisation performance and improvement levers on the factors and variables that have a significant influence on ist objectives.

Here I am giving into my temptation to use a Lean Six Sigma formula (Y=f(x)+e), derived from statistical methods. Do not panic, we will not be doing any calculations. I use it merely to explain the ‘key levers’ concept, and with that a bit of poetic license thrown in.

“As above, so below.” Business, at the macro and at the micro levels contains levers that influence its performance.

Key process levers are all the inputs or variables used in a process to deliver an output. Not all levers are created equal. Meaning they have different levels of influence on the outcome of the final product or service.

  • At the business level: A business has to effectively work with using internal levers to compete successfully in an environment where external factors impact its ability to compete and perform.
  • At the process level: Business is essentially about managing processes and its resources. These processes too are filled with in-process levers and outside-of-process factors that impact its effectiveness and efficiency.

The key take out at this point is that you should know the levers that influence the results of your business, and process outcomes well. And remember, process = business.

At the same time prepare yourself with mitigations for external factors, often random and typically outside your control that may impact your business and process performance.

Okay, back to our formula.

These few symbols hold a wealth of truth regarding prosperity and excellence.

If “Y” is the outcome we are seeking, “f(x)” is the function of the inputs, and “e” the unexplained, unexpected and perhaps also the unknown.

All “x’s” inputs are not created equal. That means, borrowing from Pareto, a vital few have a stronger influence on the “Y” outcome of a process. When these “x’s” are understood and correctly managing process performance becomes increasingly consistent and predictable.

Oh, but there looms the “e” unexplained. There will always be the unexplained and it is often incorrectly used as the excuse for poor performance. Funny thing is, the more you know about your process and their vital “x’s”, whether at the key business or key process levels  the less threatening “e” becomes. The less you are tossed about by uncertainty or rapidly changing circumstances.

To achieve process excellence thus implies increased control of your performance destiny by focusing on the key process levers.

Watch out for this one ... The risk is that when we attempt to manage the unmanageable “e”. The result is increased business and process complexity and a move further away from the true variables that really matter. This is when the noise in the overall business system becomes distracting.