Blended Learning for the Process Management Course

A MESSAGE FROM RALPH KILMANN ABOUT BLENDED LEARNING: 
HOW TO COMBINE THIS ONLINE COURSE WITH LIVE DISCUSSIONS

The members of the same work group (whether a department, task force, project group, cross-functional team, or process improvement team) will gain extra benefits from taking any of our online courses AS A GROUP. Rather than members of an organization taking our online courses separately and thus independently, learning key principles and practices with your workplace colleagues will not only enhance what every member learns from our online courses, but will also make it much easier to apply what is learned back on the job—where it counts.

Basically, when all group members (1) learn the same language and the same concepts, (2) review the same assessment tools and their personalized results, (3) analyze and discuss the same business cases, and (4) follow the same guidelines for effective behavior—BECAUSE all these principles are fully shared in the group, they are more likely to be put into practice when challenging problems and conflicts appear in the workplace.  

On this page, I outline how a work group can take full advantage of all the valuable materials in the Process Management Course. The unnumbered paragraphs describe what members are asked to do on their own, such as watch the course videos, take assessment tools, or complete work sheets in their course manual. Meanwhile, the numbered paragraphs provide the detailed steps for learning the material through face-to-face or virtual group meetings. Depending on the unique circumstances and needs of each group, this process for blended learning can be adjusted or expanded.

 

Process Management CourseTHE DETAILED STEPS FOR BLENDED LEARNING

All members—on their own—watch the first two video sections in the course, which covers pages 1 to 9 in the Course Manual for Process Management. In a thirty-minute meeting, members address these numbered paragraphs:

1. As a group, members share their understanding of the Big Picture, including the eight tracks that are intended to transform all identified barriers to success into channels for success—across all the systems and processes in the organization. Next, members share their understanding of the five stages of quantum transformation and why it’s so important that a critical mass of leaders/managers, the ones who have initiated the eight-track program, must ensure that a systematic, thorough, and impartial diagnosis be conducted. The resulting diagnostic findings then allows the eight tracks to be scheduled and implemented in a manner that will effectively address the specific needs and expectations of both internal and external stakeholders.

2. Members then discuss the particular sequence of eight tracks and how each earlier track sets the foundation for successfully completing the next track. In particular, members focus on page 9, the last three tracks, so they can distinguish gradual process from radical process from learning process improvement.

3. If any members in the group have experienced total quality management, business process reengineering, or organizational learning, they are invited to share what they have learned from these approaches to organizational improvement—especially with regards to the factors that determined how well these approaches were implemented and used to their potential. As a result, members develop a better understanding of what it takes to succeed at process management, based on what has to be learned and experienced during the prior tracks of quantum transformation.

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On their own, group members view the next video section of the course (The Gradual Process Track) on pages 10 to 29 in the course manual. In a thirty-minute meeting, members discuss these numbered paragraphs:

4. Group members share their understanding of the process cell, as the building block of the process chain. They then provide examples of their internal and external, customers and suppliers, including the important differences between actual customers/suppliers and the agents who represent them.

5. Still focusing on the process chain, members then give examples of what drives the costs of poor process as well as the benefits of good process. Members next consider how good (or poor) process management, up and down the chain, affects cycle time, process cost, and inventory levels. Along these same lines, members share their understanding of “just-in-time” process management in contrast to building inventory and/or duplicating tasks “just in case” other subunits don’t provide the necessary inputs to their work. Members then review page 22, so they fully understand the three key parameters in process management: cycle time, process cost, and excess inventory.

6. Next, members discuss another version of the “Big Picture” on page 23 in the manual, which brings together all the previous work on systems with the current focus on processes. If the organization’s vision emphasizes customer service and delight, which is then effectively deployed through all the systems and processes in the organization, the desired result—the vision—will be achieved.

7. Members review page 25 in the manual, which covers the essential steps of process management. Once the systemic barriers have been removed with the five system tracks, the attention shifts to describing, controlling, and improving processes, whether gradually or radically, whether a business process, a management process, or a learning process. Thus, the steps of describing, controlling, and improving processes repeat during each one of the last three tracks of quantum transformation.

8. Members conclude their meeting by making sure they’ll be applying the five steps of problem management for identifying the gaps and removing the barriers (root causes) while describing, controlling, and improving processes. In other words, sensing gaps, defining root causes, deriving solutions, and so on, are an important part of process management.

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On their own, members watch the next video section (Introduction to Describing Processes) on pages 30 to 60 in the course manual. In a one-hour meeting, members discuss these numbered paragraphs:

9. Group members discuss the basic flow-chart symbols as well as the additional symbols for describing a process, with special attention to identifying the specific tasks and decisions that are Customer Value-Added (CVA), Other Value-Added (OVA), and No Value-Added (NVA). If members agree to use these symbols and notations, they will develop a shared practical language for first flow charting and then analyzing the core processes in their group. Members also discuss how they can assess the total time and cost of a process by summing up the time and cost of its separate tasks and decisions. Following, they can streamline CVA activities, minimize OVA activities, and eliminate NVA activities, so they can significantly reduce cycle time, process cost, and inventory levels. After members have developed an improved flow chart, members agree to use that re-described process as their standard operating procedure.

10. Group members review the potential description barriers that explain the difference between an ideal process and their actual process (pages 40 and 41). By removing these description barriers, their process will be closer to the ideal—hence closing the gap between the ideal and actual process. By being fully aware of the differences between core processes within groups versus across group boundaries, members choose a within-group process they will work on together—according to the steps outlined for describing processes on page 46 in the manual.

11. Members review the Work Sheet for Describing Processes (pages 47 to 60), which they will use when they schedule a subsequent meeting to describe one of the core processes in their work group.

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On their own, group members watch the next video section (Introduction to Controlling Processes), which covers pages 61 to 98 in the course manual. In a one-hour meeting, members discuss these numbered paragraphs:

12. Group members discuss the key parameters of a normal distribution, which include the target, the hits (events) to achieve that target, the variation around the target, the Upper Control Limit (UCL) and the Lower Control Limit (LCL), the bands of the distribution around the target, and the percentage of hits that usually fall within the third band of the distribution (between the UCL and the LCL) when the process is under control. While there are always some members who are easily intimidated by mathematics and statistics, as long as members understand the basic concepts of targets and variation, they don’t need to make any statistical or mathematical calculations. However, it is essential that members can recognize when a process is under control versus when it’s out of control—when there are many hits beyond the third band of the distribution (including non-random trends). Most important, members should understand all aspects of the Process Control Chart (on page 73 in the manual), which is the figure that shows whether a process is under control or out of control.

13. Next, members discuss how the Upper Specification Limit (USL) and the Lower Specification Limit (LSL), which are defined by the customer’s needs and wants, can be very different from the Upper Control Limit (UCL) and the Lower Control Limit (LCL), which are defined by the third band of the normal distribution when the process is under control. Members might find it helpful to discuss the various combinations of when a process meets customer specifications and is under statistical control; when a process does not meet customer specifications even though it is under statistical control, and so on. The members then discuss the Taguchi Loss Function (on page 79 in the manual), so they can appreciate that all variation results in loss to society—which often encourages members to strive toward six sigma performance: ultimately improving a process so it’s under control within six (not three) bands of a normal distribution while, at the same time, that process also meets customer expectations—and specifications.

14. But before the focus shifts to improving processes, members discuss the various control barriers that prevent a process from being under control, which are summarized on page 80. This leads to a discussion on using the steps of problem management to identify and remove the control barriers, as summarized on page 82. Members then review the Work Sheets on Controlling Processes (pages 83 to 98), which they will use when they schedule a subsequent meeting to make sure the core process that they previously described will now be under statistical control.

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On their own, group members watch the next two video sections (Introduction to Improving Processes; An Example of Improving a Process), which cover pages 99 to 150 in the course manual. In a one-hour meeting, members discuss these numbered paragraphs:

15. Members review the key differences between controlling a process (with a given target and normal variation around the target) versus improving a process (to achieve a different—better—target with less variation around the target). Members realize that controlling processes makes the best use of the available resources, while improving processes means not only redesigning the process itself, but also making use of new and improved resources: people, technology, materials, information, policies, and flows. After members review each of the categories of resources on pages 102 to 108 in the manual, they will have a better idea of how the core processes in their group can be improved.

16. Members next discuss the three major methods for improving processes: benchmarking, quality tools, and applying problem management with assumptional analysis. By discussing the benchmarking process, members will appreciate how they must go beyond their group, organization, industry, and nation in order to discover altogether new ways of establishing and then achieving world-class performance goals—hence, altogether new ways of improving their core processes. By discussing the seven quality tools shown on page 114, members further expand their toolkit for identifying and removing any improvement barriers that stand in the way of their achieving world-class performance goals.

17. Members now review the example of improving a process (on pages 115 to 125), which illustrates how a core process can be significantly improved by using several quality tools to identify and remove description barriers—even without having to improve the resources being used in the process. This illustration makes the point that a process can be dramatically improved by changing the tasks and activities of the process (streamlining CVA, minimizing OVA, and eliminating NVA), even while using the same resources. Naturally, even more significant—radical—improvements can be made if more and/or better resources are used in the process. This example also shows how several quality tools can be used to prioritize which aspects of the process should be changed first and to show before-and-after comparisons between the old and the newly improved process, which highlights the extent and kind of process improvement that was achieved.

18. Members discuss the several steps for improving processes, which are summarized on page 126. Members then review the Work Sheets on Improving Processes (pages 127 to 150), which they will use when they schedule a subsequent meeting to establish world-class performance goals for a core process in their group. Following that step, group members will then identify and remove the improvement barriers that prevent them from achieving their world-class performance goals. Lastly, they’ll re-describe the significantly improved process, bring it under control, and continue improving it.

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On their own, group members watch the next three video sections (The Radical Process Track; Organizing Subunits Around Processes versus Functions; Speeding Up the Rate of Process Improvement), which are covered on pages 151 to 230 in the course manual. In a one-hour meeting, members discuss these numbered paragraphs:

19. Members review the crucial differences between gradual and radical improvement, and why they must first succeed at gradual change (known as kaizen) before they can succeed at radical change (known as innovation). Along these same lines, members discuss how each of the prior tracks, one by one, has prepared them for successfully participating in the radical process track.

20. Based on the prior discussions of core processes within versus between groups, and the differences among CVA, OVA, and NVA processes, members share their understanding of business processes and management processes, and how both of these are fundamentally different from the work that takes place within the traditional business functions (such as marketing, finance, human resources, sales, design, operations, and so forth).

21. Members review the three different kinds of task flow (reciprocal, sequential, and pooled) and the advantages of forming subunit boundaries around the most costly task flows (leaving mostly pooled task flow to fall between the cracks). Members discuss the profound realization that describing value-added processes is identical to making task flows explicit—so they can be controlled and improved (in terms of reducing cycle times, process costs, and inventory levels). This realization thus integrates the work of the strategy-structure track with the mission of radical process track—since both tracks (using task flows and processes, respectively) redesign the organizations resources (people, technology, materials, etc.) into semi-autonomous subunits in order to align the strategic interface with the structural interface with the job interface. The more that members understand this big picture view of systems and processes, the easier it will be for them to create—and absorb—radical process improvement. And then, when the reward system track revises members’ performance criteria to include their contribution to process management, members will be further inspired to achieve radical process improvement.

22. Members discuss the key differences between designing subunits around business functions versus designing subunits around business processes, as shown on page 165. As a group, members then review the sequence of illustrations from page 166 to page 177, so they fully understand the meaning and implications of designing the organization by business function or business process. Next, members review the section, An Example of Radical Process Improvement, so they can see that what they have already learned about describing processes within their group (and about removing description barriers) can now be generalized to describing processes across several existing business functions, removing description barriers across these business functions, and then redesigning a single horizontal subunit that can contain the entire business process, so it can then be controlled and continually improved—most efficiently and effectively.

23. Now that members realize they have acquired the tools (from the gradual process track) to describe, control, and improve business and management processes within horizontal subunits, they discuss how information technology can enable them to manage processes even better and faster. While not everyone in the organizations needs to learn how to use Computer-Aided Systems Engineering (CASE) tools, it helps if a few members can learn these tools with the support of experts in information technology. In addition, advances in information technology might enable members not only to speed up the new business process, but also to reduce process costs and inventory levels. In general, members should educate themselves on how computer hardware and software, robotics, drones, and other such technological devices can help them achieve world-class performance goals—instead of making the false assumption that the old ways (and their old familiar technologies) are sufficient for success in today’s fast-paced, competitive, global marketplace.

24. Members review how multiple “Process” Management Organizations (PMOs) are used to design/describe the business processes that will form the new horizontal subunits, including the roles of the various subgroups: the members of the shadow track, process owners, the S-Group, and several C-Groups. Members must then address the really tough question of how to redeploy or divest the excess capacity (including people) that results from radical process improvements. Otherwise, if processes are radically improved but the organization is still paying for the same (underutilized) resources as it did before, it won’t gain financial benefits from the improvement effort (for those companies that must produce financial returns in order to succeed). Clearly, members can be retrained, redeployed, and thus re-assigned to new business ventures within the same organization, which is a value-added approach, especially since the organization has already invested in the first three tracks for all members—to insure they have learned the culture, skills, and teamwork for the future.

25. For the most complex, cross-boundary processes in the organization, the participants in each PMO will conduct an assumptional analysis on alternative proposals (initial conclusions) for a new business process. The steps for managing these complex processes are summarized on page 192 in the course manual. Members review the Work Sheets on Managing Complex Processes (pages 193 to 230), just in case one or more group members will be selected for a PMO in the radical process track. Nevertheless, reviewing these work sheets provides a useful summary of how other members in the organization will be actively involved in debating and deriving the new business processes that will enable the organization to achieve its world-class performance goals.

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On their own, members watch the next video section (The Learning Process Track), which is covered on pages 231 to 245 in the manual. In a forty-five-minute meeting, members discuss these numbered paragraphs:

26. Group members discuss the many benefits of explicitly managing how knowledge is obtained and used in their organization. Included in this discussion, members share their understanding of what defines a learning organization, what is knowledge, and how do people learn to use knowledge to improve performance—both within and across subunits. Most important, members discuss a key realization: If learning is viewed as a process, then the same skills and tools that the members have already learned for describing, controlling, and improving business and management processes can also be applied for managing learning processes! Even more to the point, the process for creating, obtaining, and using knowledge is thus subject to gradual and radical improvement, as summarized on page 232.

27. Since the processes by which people and organizations learn tend to be unconscious and habitual, members share their understanding of the learning imperative on page 233, so there’s no doubt why it’s so important to make learning processes explicit. In addition, members discuss the half-life principle of learning, which demonstrates just what is possible when making learning processes explicit: What previously took two years to do can be done in half the time, if members make radical (and not just gradual) improvements to the processes by which they handle complex projects, including redesigning formal systems as well as making major business decisions. By reviewing the examples of learning processes on pages 235 and 236, members will get a better idea of the many benefits from a concerted effort to create, obtain, and share knowledge.

28. As a group, members review the examples on pages 237 to 242 for describing, controlling, and improving how they obtain knowledge about their customer’s needs and then use that knowledge to provide products and services that will satisfy those needs. Members discuss the many benefits of not only making these learning processes explicit, but also performing these learning processes in half the time. The purpose of this discussion is to make sure that members develop a deep appreciation of how to speed up the learning process, which is the foundation for everything else the organization does.

29. Once group members understand the central role of managing knowledge about external processes, the discussion switches to managing internal processes—called “self-awareness processes.” Members review the examples of such processes on page 243 in the manual. Based on the knowledge they acquired during the two foundational courses (Expanding Consciousness; Quantum Transformation), members soon realize that the implicit processes they’ve been using to determine their self-identity, self-competency, self-value, self-worth, and self-responsibility can also be described, controlled, and improved. As members gradually and radically improve their self-concepts and thus their self-awareness, they’ll have an easier time going through all the gradual and radical organizational changes that they already are (or soon will be) experiencing. Since change is loss, greater consciousness allows people to pass through the doom cycle and move on to the growth cycle—for the benefit of all external stakeholders, including themselves. Referring to the figure on page 244, members are asked to give examples of previous change initiatives that were either resisted or thwarted partly because members kept clinging to what was familiar and comfortable, so they wouldn’t have to feel the loss and pain of change. Since massive change is now the norm, however, it usually helps members to discuss not only how to create radical change, but also how to absorb such change in half the time.

30. Since group members have already discussed the Problem Management Organization in one or more of our other online courses, they have sufficient background to appreciate a new version of the PMO: the “Process” Management Organization. Just as PMOs are established to design cross-boundary processes in the radical process track, a special PMO can also be established for the learning process track. To support a learning organization, representatives from the new horizontal structure of subunits meet regularly to set up systems and processes to capture knowledge and then efficiently share this knowledge across all the boundaries in the organization. Members realize that each subunit must keep this PMO up to date with better and faster ways for managing any complex project, process, or business decision. The PMO stores this knowledge and then makes it readily available to other subunits that could benefit from having this valuable knowledge—rather than having to reinvent the wheel and thus learn everything from scratch. For the time being, members only need to understand this basic design for a learning organization. If they subsequently get selected to participate in such a PMO, they’ll learn the specifics as well as the various software programs that will enable them to rapidly capture and then share new knowledge—just in time to each subunit in need of that knowledge.

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On their own, members watch the closing video section, which corresponds to page 246 in the manual. At that time, they can test their knowledge of the key principles by taking the optional Final Exam for Process Management. Although Kilmann Diagnostics does not award a "certificate of achievement" for this course, receiving a score of 88 or more points (out of 100 possible points on twenty-five, multiple-choice questions) signifies that members have passed the exam and have thus learned the material.  

NOTE: The optional Final Exam for every course can be taken as many as five times, since its purpose is to encourage members to learn the material—not to add stress to their life. However, if someone else purchased this course for the group, the sponsor (for example, the employer) might require group members to pass each exam as an indication that they've learned the material. But Kilmann Diagnostics will not share any exam results if a member happens to score less than 88 points on any occasion for any course. We'll only inform the sponsor when members pass their exams. Click to see Sample Questions on Each Final Exam.

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