I feel like I have been using the word “dogmatic” a lot recently. I am not sure that I am using it correctly, but it doesn’t seem to bother me so I keep using it. Here is one definition that I found:
To be dogmatic is to follow a set of rules no matter what.
At Three Elements Timberworks, I say we are “dogmatic” about a few things. One of them is using processes. We are not necessarily dogmatic about the process itself. If it needs changing/improving, we are happy to do that. That is how we implement process improvement. There are even times when we need to accomplish tasks “on the fly” outside of our process. That is a rare exception not the rule. What we are dogmatic about, though, is having a process. Over the years we have learned through trial and error a process that works for us. It has been developed with input from the team as well as Michael Mahoney, an expert in high mix low volume manufacturing that we worked with back in 2008. He was vital in my understanding of processes, standard operating procedures, and what Michael called canons. Canons are the rules we follow when disruptions in our process occur. As our company grew, our projects got bigger. Having processes allowed us to take on larger projects with confidence. There is no doubt in my mind that having processes is critical to the success of any business.
Let me give you an example of something that in the past I haven’t been dogmatic about: Communicating to my customers that we have a process and what that process is. I guess I just assumed that everyone knew we had a process. That was a bad assumption. I have learned over the years that it is important to educate people not only about what we do but also how we do it, so one morning several years ago I sat down at my computer and created a flow chart. It describes in a rudimentary way what our process is. It is not an in-depth description of all the steps, but it does paint the big picture. It allows our customers to see what needs to take place and what needs to be done by them. We send this flowchart out with every quote. There are times when a customer may ask me where we are in the process and I can easily show them in the flowchart. I have had people tell me they don’t like the flowchart when I send it with the quote. They say it is confusing. I find that they tend to be the “let’s figure it out on the fly” kind of people. The flowchart helps me keep them on track. Sending the flowchart out with the quote lets everyone know how we are going to get this project completed. It gives the customer the opportunity to make suggestions, and it helps us address any steps in our process before we begin that may be troubling.
There are several other things that we are dogmatic about but those are for another article.
Click on the link to view the flowchart. TETW process flow chart
Let me know what you think