Friday, December 8, 2023

Don’t tie the cat – Your business processes need a change

The process traps often immobilize the people or make them inefficient with unproductive and unnecessary steps.  Here’s an interesting story:

A saint used to discourse his disciples every morning in his ashram. He had a pet cat in the ashram which, lately, started disturbing the disciples and creating disruption during the discourse.

The saint ordered his disciples to tie the cat with adjoining banyan tree before the discourse begins, and to untie it after he finishes the discourse. This solved the problem.  Over the years this became the process. Before the start of discourse, disciples used to tie the cat with banyan tree and untie it after the discourse.

This process was followed scrupulously for many years. Over the period of time everybody forget the objective behind this act, but kept on performing it.

One day the saint died and his successor took his place, and started performing the duties of the saint. The process of tying the cat with banyan tree continued unabatedly.

The cat also got old and died one day,  leaving everybody sad and dejected as, by then, it became the integral part of morning discourse.

Surprisingly, the saint called off the next day’s discourse, as there was no cat now to tie to banyan tree. Without the practice of tying cat to banyan tree, which was followed for so many years, the discourse couldn’t happen.

The saint ordered his disciples to get a new cat. They rushed to the market, and brought a new cat to ashram. The sacred practice of tying the cat to banyan tree before the discourse started once again. The process was re-established and everybody had a sigh of relief.

Moral of the Story:

With the advent of time, the processes lose their objectives; but people still instinctively follow them as a routine. Nobody knows why we were doing things in certain way and why are we still playing the same track. A sure shot route to disaster.

Organizations are full of such saints and disciples who blindly follow the processes; even when every process screams of obsoleteness and shows enough tell tale signs that it’s the time to change,  the time to overhaul.    

A business process is a series of value added activities, automated or performed by individuals to achieve the common business objectives. Processes are critical to the organizations as they ensure the tasks and activities performed in a specific and efficient manner. Processes help in enhancing revenue and often a cost center also.

Each function in an organization works around a set of processes. The trouble starts when people fail to efficiently monitor them and don’t optimize or reengineer them.

Business process management, Business process modeling, Business process mapping, Business process reengineering are amongst the many management approaches. Still, it’s equally critical to find the point of obsoleteness of the process.

A typical Business Process Management cycle has five components – Design, modeling, execution, monitoring, and optimization; with monitoring and optimization critical for process improvement cycle.

The four vital signs which shows that your process have become redundant and need resurgence.

Obscure objectives:

The process loses its objective. People don’t know why they follow the certain process; the sign of this-is-the-way-we-have-been-doing-things here mentality. The process implemented a decade back for customer engagement is not fulfilling its objective; the process for customer complaint handling still has redundant steps which were logical and efficient ten years back; but people still tread the old path.

Look around in your organization, analyze critically your own function; you’ll find many such processes which need immediate resurgence.    

People specific:

The most grievous situation for functions and organizations. In fact, there is no process, but still the objectives are met. It has become so person specific that the absence of person managing the process brings it to complete halt.

There are many examples across organizations where the entire projects are dumped, complete functions are scrapped, just because it was too person specific to sustain independently. The moment the person left, everything becomes complex riddle for management in absence of detailed processes.    

Performance gap:

There is substantial gap between the expectation and achievement. Sales process isn’t resulting into increased revenues; complaint management process isn’t getting the customers back; budgeting process is not instilling confidence in the team; manufacturing process isn’t bringing in efficiency, and so on.

Despite of gaping holes, the processes are the last to be considered for overhauling or reengineering. The performance gap is good enough signal that your process needs new life.  

Changed environment:

With time and business dynamics, the processes fail to deliver the desired objectives. They need to be tweaked frequently to match the changing needs of the people and organizations. Yesteryears processes are not efficient in today’s digital world; marketing processes need to take account the surge in internet penetration and online customers.

Processes should be flexible and dynamic and should be modified with time.

Do look for the obvious signs in your functions for the process improvement. Reengineer it, simplify it, redesign it, remodel it; do everything to make it effective, delivering desired results. Processes are backbone of your function and your business. 

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Hardeep is an entrepreneur, marketer, blogger, an ardent reader and avid writer. He expresses his unbiased views especially on the matters of Business, Tech & Life through this blog. He can be reached at


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