A someone who is in process improvement I can tell you with certainty that a process improvement expert must also be a process design expert. One simply cannot improve upon a process until they know the ins and outs of the existing process. It sounds simple, but, so often folks with a bird’s eye view forget, the devil is in the details.
The first thing that I do when I am assigned a new project for process improvement is, and bear with me here, I know this will be a revelation, to learn the existing process. And when I say learn the existing process, I mean, in the trenches you could create a detailed process flow, with sub processes and multiple triggering events and other complexities level of learning. The point is, how do you know what you are approving upon if you do not know or understand the current foundation? So many process improvement change issues could be mitigated with a fundamental understanding of the existing ways in which things are done. You cannot design a good solution or a right solution with a limited understanding of the fundamental problem.
A lot of process improvement is centered around designing of new processes. So often I feel people are centered around one solution that will be the to be solution. I have hardly ever found an area for process improvement for which only one solution is available. This is not math, nor is it Highlander (though I do LOVE Christopher Lambert), there is no, “there can only be one” solution. These are business problems. Business problems tend to have many solutions. As a process improvement designer, the second step, after understanding the existing process, is to think of MULTIPLE solutions to the same problem. Think of and understand the pros and cons of each solution, and be ready to pivot to full development once the right solution is found.
Do not, under any circumstances, design a process improvement solution in a silo. There are always many stakeholders when it comes to these sorts of business problems. Use this diversity to your advantage. Build relationships with folks that will enable you to bounce solution ideas off one another. Be open and objective to feedback. Be ready to answer tough questions.
Lastly, be courageous. In my experience, process designers are sometimes timid at the start of projects. I know it is very intimidating to put a creation out there, and process design solutions are often a very creative experience and process. BE BRAVE and BE BOLD.