Process Improvement for Service-Based Businesses

Hilary Corna
3 min readMay 9

Most approaches used for process such as Six Sigma and Lean are designed for large-scale manufacturing and don’t meet the needs of service-based businesses. Textbooks on process and operations only cover enormous enterprise-level multi-billion dollar international companies.

But how does process improvement apply to serviced-based and privately held companies? This is the gap I’m trying to fill and build education around. I help serviced-based companies build strong processes using an approach that matches their needs.

People over process

My methodology is based on the principles of Kaizen and my experience with Toyota, which uses your biggest asset, people, to not just follow but build strong processes to help companies create the capacity to scale.

At Toyota, we always said process improvement starts with how do we improve the lives of the person going through the process, and as a result, the business benefits. Unfortunately, this is one of the principles that is hidden among all the books written about process improvement.

What’s been happening over the last 10 years is that it’s been flipped on its head. Now it’s about:

What can the company get from this process? How can the company reduce cost, increase quality and drive profitability? And then at the very detriment of the people who are going through the process. This is one of the biggest mistakes an organization makes when solving processes.

My approach puts the people at the forefront of process improvement, both the customers and the employees.

Customers are the ultimate beneficiaries of the improved processes. Understanding their needs and requirements is essential in order to ensure that the changes made to the process are effective in meeting their expectations. Incrementally improving your processes will create customers for life.

Your employees also play a critical role in process improvement by providing valuable insights, increasing buy-in and motivation, and ensuring practical and feasible solutions. Without the involvement of employees, process improvement efforts are likely to be less…

Hilary Corna

CEO | Founder of The Human Way | Bestselling Author | New book #UNprofessional out 9/21 | Host of the UNprofessional podcast | As seen in Forbes, Fortune, WSJ