There is probably not a single organisation in Australia that is trying to do less work with more resources. It simply doesn’t happen. On the flipside, thousands of organisations both in the public and private sectors are trying to do more with less – a much more challenging proposition. The role for innovation in solving this proposition is a significant one. However, many companies associate innovation solely with customer-facing, product or service innovations. Certainly, these are seen as the more exciting types of innovations.
In order for innovation to thrive, organisations need to apply innovation methods and techniques not only to external facing challenges, but also to internal ones such as those relating to process improvement.
Identify Frustrations With Current Processes
An effective place to start in creating process innovations is to identify frustrations with current organisational processes. Asking fellow employees which processes cause them the greatest frustration will provide clues as to where the greatest inefficiencies (and opportunities for innovation) lie.
For example, at one government agency, Inventium identified that the payslip administration process was incredibly frustrating and expensive for the organisation. The current process cost the organisation six times the industry average for payslip administration. This represented a great opportunity to achieve more with less.
Crush Some Assumptions
Once specific areas for innovation have been identified through pinpointing the biggest frustrations, list out all the assumptions the organisation has around the process that is the subject of the innovation. Assumptions might be in the form of the different steps that take place within the process, the time it takes to complete each step, and the cost to the company to execute each stage of the process.
After developing a list of assumptions, crush each assumption one by one by asking ‘What if the opposite was true?’ For example, in the case of the payslip process, our client asked the question, ‘What if the payslip administration process cost only half of the industry average?’ Through crushing fundamental assumptions, new ways of innovating and improving the process will be uncovered.
Don’t Implement, Experiment
Once ideas have been generated on making the process faster, cheaper, or leaner, don’t jump straight to implementation. Instead, run some quick and cheap experiments that compare the old method with the new. A/B testing can be very powerful at this stage to provide a side-by-side comparison. Once the new method has been iterated based on the results of actual experiments, the organisation can then move forward to implementation.
Kill Off Projects That Are Adding No Value
One final idea in helping organisations do more with less is in killing off zombies – that is, stopping projects that are adding no value to the organisation, yet they continue to linger on like the living dead.
Australian Unity ran a zombie campaign and ended up saving hundreds of hours, not to mention a huge amount of money, in killing off several zombie projects.
So rather than bemoan the fact that your organisation is trying to do more with less, take some practical steps in making this happen.
This article was originally published in the Better Boards Conference Magazine 2018 as Don’t Build Roadblocks out of Assumptions: How Innovation Can Help You Do More With Less.