Processes Prevent Stress
By Drue Lawlor, FASID
Director of Coaching, Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting
You feel you have developed a great design firm with a wonderful team and you are attracting ideal clients. But you (and your team) often feel stressed and feel something is missing. You’re right! A key ingredient for a well-run firm involves the development and implementation of processes. If effectively developed, they will make your internal activities easily repeatable and consistent – creating more stability and less stress, while separating you from your competition!
Often processes are not implemented because the idea is overwhelming and you don’t know where to start or you never make time to develop necessary processes. First, it is not complicated and second, remind yourself how stressful it is without them – and consider that you may lose great team members if you don’t develop needed processes.
You don’t have to create processes on your own – and actually it’s not as effective. Involve your entire team – after all, they will be directly involved in the processes themselves – and ask for a volunteer note taker to capture comments during the discussion.
First, identify the need. The first step of developing a process is to ask essential questions such as: What’s the goal of this process? Why develop it? What problem or problems are you trying to solve by implementing the process?
Process mapping is a great tool to help recap the current way your firm operates. Identify every step that happens so you can visualize how the information flows through your firm. Have a large sheet of paper and use Post-It notes to represent each step and then place them in order. Include who is responsible for the task, and what, if any, software is used, how long it takes and if there are any things that normally happen prior and what the efficiency is. Remember, this is for the existing state of your firm. You may find ways to streamline while you go through this and you may identify inefficiencies that can be eliminated.
Once you have mapped out the current state, then use Post-It notes again to lay out the new process.
Identify who will take the lead responsibility whenever you are developing a new process. Collect information by researching and networking with other designers/firms to learn what ideas they might share that you could incorporate.
Develop each process so that it is clear to everyone on the team yet concise and with the idea of streamlining how your team operates and how you can all be more efficient while providing more value for your clients.
Don’t’ forget to test the new processes and be prepared to adjust as needed. You need to have a way to evaluate the effectiveness of the process and to realize that it doesn’t have to be perfect before implementing – but can be continually improved as needed.
Remember, as a designer, you are a problem solver, and to quote John Dewey, “a problem well put is half solved.”