Process Levers

Process levers are the inputs used in process to produce or create an outcome.

Why get to gribs with key process levers?

What is meant by "improve performance of key process Levers"?

Most processes contain hundreds, if not thousands, of input variables that impact the performance thereof. We often refer to these variables and levers.

However, not all variables are created equal. 

As with most things in life, in processes the Pareto principle also applies to these levers. A vital few have a significant impact on the outcome of a process.

The danger with most interventions on processes that are not operating to specification, often lead by competent well meaning managers, is the tendency to tamper with Levers. That is, the true root cause of the problem is not know and which lever really make a difference.

In order to achieve process excellence, an important step is to know the levers that at that particular point in time significantly influence the process’ performance. Better still is to know to what degree each levers impacts the final product or service.

Therefor it is worth investing the effort to understand these levers better and to improve performance of key process levers through implementing appropriate solutions.  

This is by far the most logical, efficient and fast approach to sustainably improve process performance. In a world of scares resources (particularly time and money!), any other approach simple does not make sense.

Types of Key Process Levers

To improve performance of key process levers, we need to first identify the many factors, variable or levers present in the process. Typically high level categories of levers exist and are different for production and service process types.


In production processes:

  • Human resource 
  • Machines / equipment
  • Production methods / actions
  • Materials used
  • Measures
  • Mother nature / unforeseen events

In services processes:

  • People
  • Policies
  • Procedures
  • Technology
  • Equipment
  • Consumables

Typically experts and the individuals working on the actual processes are called upon to aid in the identification process. Structured and semi-structured tools and techniques are employed to accomplish this task.

The previous step "map your processes", when conducted correctly, is a invaluable source of the "trivial many" Input factors, variables and levers.

Isolating the Key Process Levers

Once the "trivial many" process levers have been identified they need to be reduced to the "vital few" that have a significant influence on the Overall process performance.

Various tools and techniques can be used to identify the key process levers. A combination of these typically Field the best results.

For example. Starting with brainstorming techniques to reduce the many levers. For the remainder, quantitative tools and techniques can be used to reduce and better unterstand the "strength" of influence of each lever. 

Improve performance of key process levers thus leads to the improvement of the process' overall performance including the final service or product produced.

  1. Know how your processes are performing
  2. Map your processes.
  3. Improve the performance of those key levers.
  4. Solve process problems fast.
  5. Sustain the gains.