I like the word triage because it quickly assigns order and process to a stressful and chaotic situation. It is typically used in the medical field during emergencies where multiple injuries stretch health care resources to the limit, but it can also be applied to business challenges where scarce resources like people, time and money are in short supply.
In a business setting a triage can be a great exercise to define processes and resources necessary to meet business objectives, and is especially applicable to startups and organizations experiencing growth where resources are limited. A typical business triage is a structured exercise where a specific pain or outcome is presented and an analysis of the steps necessary to achieve resolution are determined and ranked based upon priority.
One of the challenges facing employees today is the constant stream of emails, instant messaging and web data that keeps them from making decisions on project milestones or process development. This information overload can result in analysis paralysis, and the resulting lost productivity can really hold businesses back.
This is where a business triage can really help by focusing employees on the tasks, processes and outcomes necessary to achieve the goal. Like a medical triage, a business triage is designed to quickly define and take action on issues that are most pressing and have the highest rate of return for the effort or money required.
This process is designed to find the sickest patients (processes) and quickly get them stabilized. It will also uncover patients that might need operations (projects) that will require more planning, money or resources to fix. The triage helps to eliminate analysis paralysis and the actions are now owned by the employees and they are empowered to deliver the solution based upon the assigned resources and budget.
Some ideas for your business triage might involve working on an end to end process like all the steps from the sale of a product to its delivery, or a specific resource requirement like purchasing new equipment. In each case all of the decision points and action steps are mapped out and employees are engaged to define the work necessary for each step.
There are a few resources on the web, but the one that you might find most useful is the www.processtriage.com website. This company specializes in business triage and provides both facilitator led sessions and online resources to work through your own triages. The founder of ProcessTriage recently spoke at one of our Vistage meetings so I can validate his company and work.
If your organization could benefit from some work to help you determine where to put your resources, take a look the concept of triage, I think you will find that it will help you avoid analysis paralysis.