Last night we were able to enjoy one of the greatest processes ever: childbirth. We were as ready to participate as anyone could be with crib assembled, forms completed and bags packed. We had more information about what to expect than anyone could hope for even a few years ago (before graphic YouTube videos put very private images of birth in the very public domain…yikes).
Nothing could prepare us for how quickly things moved once they started. From water breaking at 11pm to contractions in earnest by 3am, it moved faster than foretold by our friends and family. But Huntington Hospital was ready for any speed. Everyone involved…an increasing number as the morning and birth arrived, had something to do while waiting and was ready in the moment their role mattered. It was an amazing thing to watch. It was an organized orchestra of people and processes that never seemed wasteful or rushed.
Healthcare has an example
We hear about how inefficient healthcare has become, but the processes that were ready for us and executed for our benefit were tight, efficient, and could run at the varying speeds of every expectant mother. No one was shouting orders to anyone. Instead there was a sense of calm professionalism, and flawless execution.
Birth maybe a fairly standard process so one could say this isn’t the best example of ‘challenged’ BPM, but going through it and watching as each phase opened and closed, it was clear that births can go many different ways but stay within a single process flow. Interestingly, it was supported by technology but didn’t depend on it. Technology gave staff indications of the baby’s heart rate and arrival of contractions, but we could had a technology meltdown and stayed on track. The most resilient processes can survive even technical challenges.
Process can be flexible
One of the worst arguments for against managing process is that it kills creativity and creates rigidity. If the birth process and its high variability can be executed this well, business agility can be enhanced by putting similar mechanisms in place.
We do this for childbirth because there’s a moral responsibility to protect mothers and babies. Business doesn’t have quite that same expectation but could have similar success with the right leadership and guiding principles. This is not so easy, with many battles to fight and more reasons to forget it and just go with the current flow. But these are excellent fights for those want to make an organization far better than they found it.
This piece was co-authored by Chris Taylor and Jeanne Roué-Taylor, proud parents of Catherine Michele Taylor, born February 22, 2013 at 7:36am.