Amongst the many organisations I speak to there is one topic that crops up regularly. It is the topic of process ownership. There seems to be widespread confusion over what ownership means.

Ownership does not necessarily mean doing all of the associated tasks. The people that seem reluctant to take (full) ownership of their processes seem to think that this is the case.

Ownership does mean that you’ll look after the process. It also means that you’ll have the highest standards and that you’ll speak up if things aren’t right. Ownership might involve coordinating and managing but it doesn’t have to tie you down with endless tasks and mopping up after others.

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A senior manager at one of my clients had this dilemma the other week. It was clearly time for them to step up and take full ownership of their process and the associated data sets in their CRM system. They had stayed away from the sharp end of the data up to this point but decision making had become poor and their system was degrading. It was time to step up.

During the first conversation about taking ownership we achieved a “no”. They thought that taking ownership meant they had to input all of the data and correct all of the mistakes; no wonder they said no! We had a chat about their reservations and then they realised that all they had to do was keep an eye on what they should have already been looking at and speak up.

The business got an owner for their business development process that it sorely needed. The data needed cleaning up but the benefits outweighed the cost. The process owner soon found that they were better able to make decisions. The improved decision making allowed them to win more business faster and everyone was happy.

Apart from the obvious improved business results the business also benefited from another gain. Discipline started to improve with the overall system. The habits of proper data entry spread. The laziness that they had experienced before with their systems started to disappear. Through effective process management better habits formed.

Good habits lead to great results. Good habits are certainly reinforced by an effective process owner.

How is process ownership in your organisation? Is it embraced and working well? Or, is it something that key members of staff are still trying to ignore?

If you want sustainable results, don’t let the process owners off the hook!

Giles Johnston

Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who consults with businesses to improve their on time delivery performance, ERP system performance and deploy Kaizen / Lean production methods. Giles is also the author of 'What Does Good Look Like?'.