Management of acceleration of activities in a company is a process

Everyone knows that our bodies are a system of interconnected organs. But without the processes which occur in our bodies, with all those organs we would just be dead carcasses.  Businesses work in a similar way. Apart from having organizational cells, processes need to occur in them and the management of acceleration of activities is one of them. 22/2019(1)

Polska wersja artykułu: Zarządzanie akceleracją działań w przedsiębiorstwie to proces

The company in the process-based view

The 1990s were a booming period for the process approach in companies. Everyone noticed that processes are a common occurrence in businesses. Hammer wrote that they occur in companies regardless of the fact whether we realize them or not (Hammer, 1999, p. 19). The process approach made it possible to see the functioning of companies in a different way. Developed were iconic methods and tools such as ABC calculation (Kaplan, Anderson, 2007) or the strategic Balanced Scorecard (Kaplan, Norton, 2001). ERP systems bloomed and ISO 9000 norms were completely remodelled at the beginning of the 21st century. The process-based view of businesses was boosted by a dynamic development of the service sector. In the classic view, a service is after all one of the categories of processes.

Today, nobody doubts that the process-based view of a company is necessary. Analysis and optimization of processes leads to minimizing the wastefulness proposed by lean management or lean manufacturing, facilitates automation, robotization and digitalization, pushing companies towards Industry 4.0 (Graczyk-Kucharska, Szafrański, Goliński, Spychała, Bosekova, 2017).

Management of acceleration of activities – a process it is worth noticing in the company

Many classifications of processes in businesses have been developed to date. I collected early proposals in one of my books (Szafrański 2006). When studying acceleration of activities, in particular acceleration of creation of knowledge or, in wider terms, competences, I noticed that the phenomenon needs to be managed and management of acceleration of activities is simply one of the processes which should not be underestimated in companies.

Businesses are continuously looking for an answer to the question which targets to reach and how to reach them? It is also true in our lives. Even if we do not articulate such a question, it is embedded somewhere in our subconsciousness.  In businesses WE HAVE TO ask such a question and moreover we need to answer it. Obviously, we can verify our answer even on a daily basis but it has to be given.

We reach targets by acting and in businesses those activities are most often organized (Encyklopedia, 1981, p. 109-110). The faster we act, the faster we will achieve our goal. Apart from the question “how to act?” we start to be concerned with “how to achieve a better speed of activity?” To be more precise “how to achieve accurate speed of activities?” since after all faster is not always better. As it is the case in a football game, if a player moves forward too fast he will either be caught offside or there will be no-one to pass the ball to. And that is why we cannot leave acceleration of activities to itself. We need to control it, and to put in more elegant words, we need to manage it.

In general, we want to reach our target as soon as possible. It would be best if we could just think about something and the thing we want just happened on the spot.  Who would not want to be able to travel to other planets within just a few seconds. But the flight needs to be safe. If one of us accelerated to the speed of light, with today’s technologies we would not survive it.  The same mechanism applies to a company. We would like to do everything as fast as possible but just fast enough to prevent the system from breaking apart. Therefore, management of acceleration of activities involves looking for methods of acceleration and, if the need arises, deceleration, i.e. skilfully choosing the “yin and yang” with respect to the speed of activities.

I apply a classic approach to management here, viewing it through the prism of functions such as: planning, organizing, motivating, control.

As part of the management of acceleration of activities, we can distinguish the following activities whose scope can be extended:

  1. acceleration of reaching the goal – we should always think how to achieve the goal faster because why wait for something if we can have it sooner?
  2. accumulation of goals – in this case we think what to do to achieve the biggest possible number of goals with the lowest possible number of activities because why start new activities to achieve every goal as most often we have a lot of them?
  3. reducing the number of activities – because if in a process composed of activities we eliminate a few of them, the entire process will shorten which means that we will achieve our goal faster,
  4. shortening the duration of activities – because it is not only elimination of activities in the process that accelerates achievement of the goal, it is also possible by finding ways of shortening the activities needed in the process,
  5. potentialization of activities – it involves not acting or hardly acting and reaching the goal anyway; for instance, why wage a war and attack a weak neighboring state if one can organize a parade of state-of-the-art military equipment?

Obviously, it is not easy to apply those principles and often, even if it is, it cannot be done for ethical reasons.  For instance, let us imagine that two sellers are selling tomatoes at a marketplace.  One sells them for 5, the other for 10. Given acceleration in generation of profit, it would be best from the point of view of the other seller to burn down the stall of the first one while killing the first seller would be the most durable solution. But most often nobody kills anybody because we follow ethical principles which are established in legal systems. In management of acceleration it is important to act faster but also to act ethically.

Regardless of that, a growth in the speed of activities cannot cause a growth in the cost of faster activities or a decrease in the effectiveness of the activity.  Among other things, management of acceleration of activities involves making sure that those activities are effective and efficient.  But it is a whole different story.

Sources:

Hammer M. (1999). Reinżynieria i jej następstwa. PWN, Warszawa.

Kaplan R.S., Norton D.P. (2001). Strategiczna karta wyników. Jak przełożyć strategię na działanie. PWN, Warszawa 2001.

Kaplan R.S, Anderson S.R (2007). Time-Driven Activity-Based Costing: A Simpler and More Powerful Path to Higher Profits, Harvard Business School Press, Boston.

Graczyk-Kucharska M., Szafrański M., Goliński M., Spychała M., Borsekova K. (2017), Model of competency management in the network of production enterprises in Industry 4.0 – assumptions, w: Advances in Manufacturing, Hamrol A.,  Ciszak O., Legutko S., Jurczyk M. (red.), Springer, Cham.

Szafrański M. (2006), Skuteczność działań w systemach zarządzania jakością przedsiębiorstw, Wyd.

Politechniki Poznańskiej, Poznań.

Encyklopedia organizacji i zarządzania (1981). Praca zbiorowa pod redakcją L. Pasiecznego. PWE, Warszawa.

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