When I was leading a department, I never thought of myself as a process owner. It wasn’t in my job description, and I never heard anyone used the term. It’s one of those useful concepts that I wish I had known, prior to my Six Sigma and Lean education.

Here’s my working definition: The process owner is that leader who is closest to the process itself, who has responsibility for achieving the expected outcome of the process, both before and after an improvement project.

So now, I try to introduce the term right away and use it frequently so that everyone knows what the role is, in respect to a project (and afterwards). I also try to spend extra time with the process owner if they are new to the role. Even then, though, it’s hard sometimes to get across the continuing expectations. A statement that I hear frequently is, “I’m glad that the project is over – now I can quit being the process owner!”

Have any of you faced this challenge, or is it more clearcut in some industries than in others? Have you had to do extra education or mentoring of someone who was not sure they were a process owner – for either a project or a process? Do you have a different definition of process owner, that’s been helpful for you?

It would be great to hear your thoughts.

About the Author