How to Escape (or Avoid) the Capability Trap

Part 2 of 2. Continuing from defining the Capability Trap, here are some key things you can do to break free (or steer clear) of the Capability Trap.


Plan and think long term

Everyone knows the importance of planning and thinking longer term, but despite best efforts, many organisations still revert to a short term focus for a number of reasons. These can include pressure to meet the current year’s budget or a new product release is running late and you need to get it out the door.

But it is easier to stick to the long-term plan if it reflects an agreed short-term dip in performance followed by a later increase. If key stakeholders have bought into the plan on that basis (accepting short term cost for longer term gain), there will be a lower risk of diverting focus away from the long-term plan – a lower risk of being stuck in the Capability Trap.

In posing the Capability Trap issue to our team – here are six key things they identified to escape from, or avoid getting stuck (and yes, some of them do mention using our tools).

1. Invest in capability

To successfully implement your planned improvements, you need to create enough capacity within your teams to enable them to solve problems and assist with implementing solutions.

A common reason why improvement projects fail is there is not enough SME (Subject Matter Expert) resource allocated to the projects. Or the SMEs that have been are still expected to do their “day job”, at the expense of the improvement project. So, when allocating SMEs to a project, ensure either a short-term reduction in output is agreed, or they are back-filled by temporary resource.

2. Don’t be afraid to bring in external expertise

An experienced consultant can kick-start your improvement journey by establishing a systematic framework for problem solving and managing your improvement initiatives. Just make sure knowledge transfer happens so your team can continue improving as part of their normal ongoing business practice. A good consultant is money well spent. DIY is all very good in spirit but investing in the right expertise will save you money and produce better results in the long run.

3. Use the right technology

Invest in technology and methods that reduce the time to implement process improvements and ensure you are working on the right stuff. For example, Arkturus Process Mining can use system event log data to produce fact-based process visualisations in days rather than weeks.

Arkturus Process Mining also provides you with interactive process visualisations to identify and analyse problems then quantify their impact – all faster and better than traditional techniques. As a result, you have a much better backlog of opportunities, prioritised more accurately, ensuring you work on the right stuff first.

4. Create a common vision for your team

Using Arkturus you can create an accurate virtual model of how your business operates – its systems and more importantly, its processes. This provides a much-needed common vision and language for your organisation to have those improvement discussions. It also enables you to test hypothesis and solutions for improvement – without impacting the business – until you are confident the change will be a positive one.

5. Measure and track performance of your processes

Establish KPI reporting and targets to identify the problem areas with the biggest impact rather than the easiest to fix, then track the performance of your processes as improvements are made. Arkturus Process Mining enables you to create codeless KPIs and reports. It then provides fast feedback by showing the impact of your improvements immediately. You don’t have to wait for customised reports to be developed after each improvement is implemented.

6. Finally – the most important thing of all – Get started.

Start small. Choose one process in one department or area of your business and start by improving that. Once that is done – move onto your next biggest issue. Knock them off one by one, continuously improving the process each time. Before long, you will have a long-term capability building process in place and multiple areas of your business becoming increasingly productive.