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The Power of Process and Continual Process Improvement

February 1, 2019

The Process. These two words represent the core of Nick Saban’s coaching philosophy at the University of Alabama. Arguably the greatest college football coach to ever live, The Process has been the guiding force in enabling Saban to win six national college football titles (LSU 2003, Alabama 2009, 11, 12, 15, 17).

So, what is The Process and how does it relate to you and your business? The Process represents Saban’s building blocks of creating a champion. It is the obsessive attention to detail, commitment to making daily progress and a we-before-me mindset. It is a principle that emphasizes preparation and hard work over consideration of outcomes or results. In simplistic terms, it is process management for running a sports program that requires each player to buy into a series of behaviors. Sound familiar and appropriate for your firm?

Saban formulated “process thinking” as pertains to football with the help of psychiatry professor Lionel Rosen while Saban was the head coach of Michigan State. In the fall of 1998, Saban was desperate. It was his fourth season with the Spartans and Michigan State was 4-4 and slated to travel to Columbus, OH to play undefeated Ohio State, the number 1 ranked team in the nation.

With guidance from Professor Rosen, Saban opted for a radical change in the way he prepared his players for the game. He told his team not to worry about winning the game. Rather, he instructed them to treat each play independently… to focus solely on what needed to be done to maximize their potential on each snap of the ball. And, as soon as a play was over, he mandated that it was wiped from memory. Saban was creating a mindset of perfecting performance play by play as part of a process. The outcome of the game took a back seat to the execution of the task. A 24-point underdog, Michigan State upset the Buckeyes 28-24. The Process was born.

“The Process is really about what you have to do day in and day out to be successful,” states Saban. “We don’t talk about what we’re going to accomplish, we focus on how we are going to do it.” Focus on process and execution and the wins will come.

Process and Process Improvement

Process is best defined as the sequence of interdependent and linked procedures… a series of actions or steps taken to achieve a particular end. An effective process produces the right results consistently. Process improvement, on the other hand, is the proactive task of identifying, analyzing and improving upon existing business processes within an organization. Its goal is to close performance gaps to stimulate growth, profitability and shareholder value. Much like Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide, it is imperative that you have processes for mission critical areas within your agency. And, within each process there must be a series of steps that are understood, practiced and executed by members of your team. You will gain clarity and confidence as you identify, map, model and execute processes.

Tom Motamed, the recently retired chairman and CEO of CNA Financial states, “agency leaders must appreciate the importance of process improvement, especially as it relates to culture and brand.” As you embark upon process improvement initiatives, ask yourself the following three questions:

  1. Are the processes clearly defined, understood and aligned with my objectives?
  2. Is there ownership and performance accountability for each process?
  3. Are the processes streamlined, consistent and standard?

Editors Note: Be sure to check out our post, entitled “Six Key Processes Within the Beyond Insurance Model”, where we examine the processes which are most critical to your agency’s success.  

About the Author

Scott Addis, CPCU, CRA, CBWA is the CEO of Beyond Insurance and is recognized as an industry leader having been named a Philadelphia finalist for Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award as well as one of the “25 Most Innovative Agents in America.” Beyond Insurance is a consulting firm that offers leadership training, cultural transformation, and talent and tactical development for enlightened professionals who are looking to take their practice to the next level.  Since 2007, the proven and repeatable processes of Beyond Insurance have transformed individuals and organizations as measured by enhanced organic growth, productivity, profitability, and value in the marketplace.

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