57
Chapter 6
Business Process 
Improvement
Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.
Steve Jobs
is chapter presents an operational denition of the phrase business process
improvement (BPI) and describes the overall methodology for conducting a BPI
project. Denitions remove barriers and level expectations so that all stakehold-
ers are engaged in the same manner during the project. e chapter provides
the road map explaining the journey that the BPI team will take and identies
signicant landmarks along the way.
At the end of the chapter, the project team will be able to—
Dene the benets of business process improvement
Describe the methodology that will be used for the project
Cable television channels host a slew of improvement shows. e HGTV
channel focuses on upgrading and updating homes and gardens with such pro-
grams as Ready to Sell, while the Lifetime channel concentrates on improving
the dress styles and looks of men and women with programs such as Jury for
Design and What Not to Wear.
In the program What Not to Wear, caring family and friends send a plea to the
stylists (Stacy and Clinton) because they believe that the candidate’s appearance
58 ◾  Change or Die: The Business Process Improvement Manual
mismatches their age, status, or profession. Stacy and Clinton ambush the unsus-
pecting “victims” and apprise them that they have been selected for a makeover.
Wardrobes are scrutinized and outts are tossed in the garbage. e stylists
show the clients new and improved looks that atter their appearance. Each vic-
tim gets a $5,000 shopping spree for a new wardrobe based on the tips received.
e stylists monitor the purchases and intervene when the client is deviating
from the recommended choices. After a professional makeup session and haircut
and style, the client’s new look is revealed to an audience of friends and family,
who are reduced to tears and gush that the person has “never looked better.
Improvement shows on television use the same formula: an existing condi-
tion is presented, its problems are highlighted, recommendations are made and
then implemented (within budget), and the outcome is evaluated.
Our BPI methodology similarly evolved from identifying problems, and then
facilitating and supporting implementations wherever we worked. We have read
books, brainstormed (ie, “ideated”), tried solutions, failed, started over, and suc-
ceeded in making real improvements that reduced delivery time, human eort,
and cost. We got the people around us involved and encouraged, cajoled, bribed
them to support the initiative—to implement and sustain the changes on a daily
basis. We did not think in terms of BPI, but we simply aspired, like Stacy and
Clinton, to give the client a new look that will better serve their daily purpose.
We did not bandy around the term BPI, as business jargon is often viewed
as evidence of how out of touch senior management is with the daily concerns
of its employees. Instead, we worked to make it relevant and indispensable for
their organization.
ink about it. Host a meeting with senior managers and ask, “How do we
not obfuscate the processes we work with?” What kind of responses will we get?
Ask an administrative assistant, “How can we simplify or clarify the
accounts payables process?” He would probably give a number of solid reasons
why improvement needs to be considered and oer up a few solutions.
Definition
To design is to communicate clearly by whatever means you can
control or master.
Milton Glaser
Business process improvement is achieved by examining and understanding the
why, what, and how of the process and demystifying the interactions between
the people, process, and technology. During the project, people are empowered,
activities are simplied, and the use of technology as an enabler of accurate,

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