Accomplishing a goal requires a series of steps. Collectively, these actions comprise the process you will use to accomplish your goal — whether it be a one-off accomplishment, or a recurring effort.

Reevaluating a process to make it more efficient and effective is a key strategy to accomplish your goals more effectively — at both a personal and corporate level. This often overlooked approach is known as process improvement, and can be used to tackle everything from washing dishes to achieving world peace.

IVY Thought Leader Sam Chin is a business process consultant who is working to make it easier for everyone to accomplish their goals. His revolutionary techniques for improving processes can be used in a wide variety of situations, and are helping companies and employees effectively manage and understand their businesses. In this exclusive IVY Magazine interview, Sam explains the “process” behind process consulting and how to use these strategies to understand how things work in your business, reduce waste, and increase value.

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m a business process consultant and the founder of Cavi Consulting, a process improvement firm which specializes in helping services-based companies to automate, scale, and grow. I work with companies to help them understand how their business actually works, how to reduce cost and optimize value creation, and ultimately to support successful entrepreneurs as they grow their businesses and transition to being a CEO.

What are the most common issues people come to you for help with?

Process improvement is a fascinating space, and one reason is because it can help with anything and everything. Any time a business is struggling to grow, to scale, to automate — process work can help. But most business owners aren’t that familiar with the process space, so they come for help with things like developing their business structures, optimizing their data entry systems, reducing waste and overhead. They go away with a deep understanding of their business and the tools they need to grow, scale, and automate their work.

Why are so many people interested in transitioning from being an Entrepreneur to a CEO? Why is it difficult for people to do this?

For entrepreneurs who aspire to grow their businesses beyond themselves, this transition is a necessary step in that process of shifting from “freelancer” to “business owner” (in other words, scaling and growth). And in this age of the “gig economy,” remote working and virtual businesses, freelancing and entrepreneurship is an appealing and sustainable career path for more people than ever.

However, entrepreneurs as a breed are very hands-on and often believe their success is directly tied to their personal involvement with their clients and the day-to-day operations of their business. This bogs them down and makes it difficult for them to elevate themselves to a leadership position within the business. This is where process consulting is so useful — it empowers them to understand how their business works on a much deeper level than many of them have previously been able to, and they are able to identify areas where they can delegate or automate, implement better systems, hire new resources, and so on.

What are the first steps you take when working with a new client?

To listen. The key to successful process consulting is to be able to get a clear picture of the current state of the business (what I refer to as the “as-is” process); to define that “as-is” process in a way that makes it clear to the stakeholders; and then to work with the client to identify opportunities to remove waste, implement automation, or simply make that process more streamlined.

The goal in the early stages is to get a “snapshot” of the existing process, and remove all assumptions or analysis from the picture. I always think of it in terms of the 5 W’s: Who, What, When, Where, and Why.

What makes your consulting practice different from others?

Our approach is unique in the market — it’s a framework and methodology which I’ve developed in my years of working with a wide range of businesses.

We’re also innovative in that we specialize in helping services businesses, which traditional process methodologies like Lean and Six Sigma weren’t originally designed for.

What is an operating model and why is a good operating model design important?

In business there are two types of process you can identify and optimize: operations and projects. The operations processes are based on your operating model, which at the most basic level means “how your business generates value for its customers.” It is the study of how a business leverages their people and technology to enable a business process.

Without a well-designed operating model, your business will not be able to run efficiently and it will be difficult to generate a strong cost:value ratio (and therefore run at a profit).

What are the first steps someone should take if s/he is looking to begin process improvement?

Familiarize yourself with the basics of well established process improvement methodologies. Reading on Six Sigma and Lean methods will provide a great example of what already exists out there, as well as the basics and broad objective of process improvement. Great books such as the The Toyota Way by Jeffry Liker or The Lean Start Up by Eric Ries, are just a few examples of many great books written on the topic.

Also, one could sign up for Cavi’s upcoming online course! Cavi will also be coming out with extensive video and written materials in the coming months on our methods and work. Please sign up for our mailing list to hear the latest news and try beta products.

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