Title image, cartoon of a PPR

The essence of 'participation'

The key to a successful Participative Process Review (PPR) is people participation.

It is important to ensure

  • you have a sponsor who provides clear and concise terms of reference
  • you have the right cross section of people in the workshop that are impacted by the process
  • you allow time for people to talk, share and discuss
  • you engage a facilitator (who ideally is neutral to the process under review)
  • everyone is empowered to challenge the status quo

One of the most useful articles we have found regarding participation in process reviews is The Key to Good Process Mapping by Ben Graham (2006). We attach a copy of this article to participants joining instructions. This provides emphasis and reassurance that each participant is valued for their potential input.

Moments of Truth

The PPR workshop makes reference to the customer focused strategy of Moments of Truth used by Jan Carlzon the CEO of Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) in the 1980s. He used the term to mean those moments (often less than 15 seconds) in which important brand impressions are formed by customers and where there is significant opportunity for good or bad impressions to be made.

Moments of Truth often happen when they are not thought to occur, in odd interfaces with staff and moments with key deliveries of service. First impressions are often critical moments. When customers (in our context students as co-creators) have certain expectations and they are disappointed, then they can form very negative impressions or feel a sense of betrayal.

Moments of Truth require organisations to slow down time in watching customer interactions and questioning how these can be improved.

For this to be achieved Carlzon espoused that a customer-orientated company is one that is organised for change and SAS would not survive with detached, administrative top down leadership. He concluded that service and the front line people were the success leavers.

Lean thinking

The PPR workshop makes references to the concept of Lean thinking. Lean thinking in its broadest sense is a holistic and sustainable approach to do more with less. Lean represents a culture in which organisations continually look to eliminate wastefulness in delivering value to a customer. Key requirements in creating a Lean environment are

  • maintaining an unrelenting focus on providing customer value
  • delivering what is needed by the customer at the right time
  • keeping things moving (flow)
  • apply various techniques to examine and eliminate root causes of waste
  • continuous learning and making everyday improvements
  • taking a long term view (Lean is a journey not a destination)
  • building long term relationships with all stakeholders
  • respecting people

For Lean to succeed the last point is arguably the most important. In Lean its people who create value. They are more important than tools, equipment or capital. Its people who implement processes and utilise equipment. Rooting out waste through Lean depends on creating the right culture and environment where people are respected.

Lean thinking originated in the manufacturing sector (synonymous with Toyota) and has subsequently spread to other sectors. The Leadership Foundation for Higher Education has a useful development tool kit dedicated to Lean management which is available to members.


Carlzon, J. (1989) Moments of Truth, New strategies for today’s customer driven economy. New York: Harper Collins.

Graham, B. S. (2006) The Key to Good Process Mapping. Available at http://www.worksimp.com/articles/the%20key%20to%20good%20process%20mapping.pdf [Accessed on 02 October 2015].