Every once-in-a-while, a new buzz word appears and suddenly you hear it everywhere. The most recent one I became aware of is WORKFLOW. A couple of weeks ago, Carl used it in one of his infomercials. I also came across it when I was investigating a competitor on the internet. And now I have started using it while discussing the work Black Tulip does.
Since I didn’t truly understand what it meant, but rather adapted it to what I believe it meant for my business, I thought it was time to do some research.
When I googled the word, I quickly found three different descriptions:
- the sequence of industrial, administrative, or other processes through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion.
- the flow or amount of work to and from an office, department, or employee
- Progression of steps that comprise a work process, involve two or more persons, and create or add value to the organization’s activities. In a sequential workflow, each step is dependent on occurrence of the previous step; in a parallel workflow, two or more steps can occur concurrently.
To me, the third one seems to apply best to how I have interpreted the word as it relates to my business.
Nearly each process in a business includes multiple steps and multiple people. Prior to the computer and internet age it might have been a folder full of documents moving from desk to desk, or a product moving from one piece of machinery to another.
Today most processes move electronically from computer to computer or more recently, it’s the employees that access it in a central location such as “the cloud”.
The first description though encompasses a more complete and inclusive description I believe:
the sequence of industrial, administrative, or other processes through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion.
What is the value of a new buzz word? Well in this case it caught my attention, I thought about it, discussed it with my team, and it started a new process – (sorry, workflow) – to record our internal workflows, to be able to analyze, replicate and improve.
I encourage you all to look beyond the buzz word and think about your own businesses’ workflows to be able to analyze, replicate and improve.