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Archive for May, 2007

The wiki is a wonderful thing.   At its best, a wiki can facilitate rich description, innovative creations, and insightful analysis.  It’s cheap, it’s easy, and it’s democratic. 

So, why am I having such a hard time getting people to participate in a wiki environment?  The first time I used a wiki in a business analysis setting, I published the results of a workshop I conducted to our corporate wiki.  The workshop was adjourned with a spirited commitment to continue collaborating.  I had unanimous support for the project–everyone was in complete agreement that the process has problems, and we all (more or less) agreed what those problems were. 

So I posted an outline of the results of the workshop and asked the Subject Matter Experts to fill in the blanks.  I need their expertise to describe the points in greater detail.  No one responded.  I sent out several emails pestering the group to take a look at the document.  Some looked at it.  Others didn’t.  No one added a word to it.  Why?  I have some theories:

  1. I didn’t offer them motivation to participate.  I just asked nicely.  They didn’t know where I was going with this. 
  2. They had never used a wiki before, and they were unsure as to what the environment was all about.
  3. Those that did understand the wiki concept didn’t feel comfortable in the wiki enviroment.  Most people are comfortable with "Email Collaboration–" the kind of collaboration where you send a document out to 10 people and receive 7 or 8 or 9 emails back with comments.  People are comfortable with that, because they can respond privately without sharing their comments with the group.   The wiki isn’t so safe.

I have taken my first wiki experience and my newfound Theory of Wiki Reticence to heart, and I have tried again.  This time I have done some things a bit differently. 

  1. I have offered my co-collaborators more from the start.  Instead of just publishing an outline, I wrote a complete first draft of my analysis.
  2. I stayed away from the word "wiki."  Hopefully the people with wiki aversions won’t be turned off.
  3. I have peppered questions throughout the document. My hope is that the added direction will help the team focus and not feel overwhelmed.  (Some call this a Content Alert.)
  4. I have moved from the Confluence Wiki Platform to a SharePoint 2007 wiki platform.  Although I like using Confluence and it’s feature-rich platform, the beginning user gets overwhelmed.   It’s a new interface for most, and the average business user gets turned off when they have to learn yet another piece of software.  SharePoint 2007 wiki, on the other hand, is as vanilla as you can get.  It has one option–"edit."  Totally simple and there is almost no learning curve.

So far, I have seen a couple people getting their hands dirty on this new wiki, but I’d like to see more.  Some things I plan on doing this week to get more participation include:

  1. Doing a better sales job.  I need to make sure that everyone understands the benefit to participating.  In this case the point of the wiki is to understand the current process so we can present a cogent argument for change. 
  2. Send out kudos for those who have submitted their ideas to the wiki.  Hopefully, the positive reinforcement will help motivate others to  participate.

The website, WikiPatterns.com has been a great resource.  The site describes ways to increase adoption of wikis.  Does anyone have other ideas regarding ways to get more people involved in documenting  current processes using a wiki?

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Seth Godin was "playing" at the Improv in Tempe, Arizona yesterday to push his new book The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick).  The man knows how to speak and he definitely knows how to answer questions.  His presentation started at 8:40 am and ended at 10:45–a weird start time, but I really liked starting out my morning with coffee, bagels, and Seth!!

I have written about how Seth’s ideas can be applied to BPM here and here.  He’s quite a prolific blogger and author of books, but I have never once heard him use the term "Business Process Management."  (Google couldn’t come up with any instances either.)  So, how do I keep  learning about Business Process Management from Seth?  Quite simple.  He preaches that business are successful when their products and/or services are remarkable.

A remarkable company understands its customers and its customers’ expectations.  Business Process Management (if done right) is able to align processes, roles, systems, and strategy around customer expectations to deliver remarkable products and services.  So, a remarkable company has remarkable processes. 

Although Seth doesn’t call it BPM he comes close to describing it in a blog post 13 months ago:

Replace [managing by intuition with] a process that measures and tests and improves and repeats and changes elements hourly. Replace it with a process that’s all about split testing and funnels and what works. Will a process like that invent MySpace or Flickr? Of course not. But it might very well turn your metrics from negative to positive. It might reinvent all the dynamics of your business.

Good BPM is about aligning our processes with the things that make our products and services remarkable. 

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I’m sorry about this. I just didn’t like all the constraints that wordpress.com places on their blogs. I’m now at www.goldeninsights.com. Please have a look and subscribe to the feed.

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This is my new permanent blog.  Sorry that I’ve been jumping from blog host to blog host.  I’m not going anywhere anymore. 

Welcome to my Golden Insights!

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Vintage: Characterized by excellence, maturity, and enduring appeal; classic.*

Recently, I sat in on an employee interview for a business analyst position, and the interviewee referred to an old process as a "Vintage Process." I chuckled when he uttered the phrase, because there is such irony when you put the two words together.

Vintage cars, or jeans, or t-shirts, or jukeboxes evoke a sense of awe, because they just look cool.  It may be many years old, but a vintage item is always cool. I know nothing about cars.  Truth be told, my only interest in cars has to do with finding one that will safely carry my family and me to where we need to go.  But when I see a vintage car, I can’t help but to stare.

A process, on the other hand, should never be "vintage."  A process should always be fresh.  There are just to many forces pushing processes to change, including our customers’ expectations, new technologies, and our experiences.  Twenty years ago, your company may have had an innovative process that helped your company to become a world leader.  The process may even be described in textbooks and case studies as a "classic."  I bet that your company no longer uses that process in the same form.  If it does, your company is probably no longer a world leader.

Some key signals that your company has a "vintage" process:
   

  • "This is the way we’ve always done it, and it works well."
  • "This is what set us apart from the competition and helped us get
       to our IPO."
  • "Put Legacy System Name here has been around since we started and
       it’s very difficult to get any changes implemented."

These are just a few, but I’m sure you’ve all heard others.  Please post some of your vintage process experiences here…

*Dictionary definition of vintage on Answers.com. The American Heritage(r) Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright (c) 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

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About Me

I’m a business analyst and project manager. I’m currently in the
process of completing my Certified Process
Manager – Practitioner (CPM-P) certification through the Business
Process Management Group. 

After I graduated from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Arts, I spent a year abroad.  I developed a passion for intercultural communication, and decided to pursue a Masters of Arts in Communication Studies from Arizona
State University.  It was an intense learning experience and I was able to refine my writing skills and develop my analysis skills.  I taught public speaking, conducted several anthropological studies, and absorbed new perspectives. 

Soon after graduating with my Master of Arts degree, I took on a role as a project manager for a large university.  My job was to manage the development of curricula.  From there, I moved to a position where I implemented an enterprise imaging and workflow application.  I managed the project plan, much of the analysis, and the actual implementation.  My expertise with the software allowed me to make the jump to a workflow and imaging vendor as a consultant.

As a consultant, I facilitated meetings with our customers, wrote functional requirements, and spent countless hours liaising between business and technology stakeholders.  I integrated our workflow and imaging software into Fortune 1000 companies’ HR, finance, and operations departments. 

After the travel got unbearable (around the time my daughter was born), I left the consultant role to help implement another workflow project for a legal network based in my hometown of Chicago.  My role was to direct, develop and implement the document automation aspects of the project.  To meet the strict deadlines I hired, managed and trained 17 analysts to convert and automate 20,000 legal documents.

Four years after I left the University, my old boss called me to ask if I’d return to help him start a new department called Office of Process Design (OPD).  Over the last 3 years, I’ve worked in OPD to help manage projects and do Process Analysis across the organization.  Today, I’m spearheading a project to refine the end-to-end process that develops and implements academic programs.

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One of my cousins is graduating high school this month (yes, we are a generation apart), and I’m pretty sure I’m going to buy him The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman as a graduation present.  For me, the book was eye-opening, but for my cousin, it could help him make some important career decisions while he still has opportunities to explore.  I wish I read a book like this when I was his age!

This was the first book I had ever listened to on my MP3 player.  I downloaded it from audible.com, and I have to admit, I really liked the experience.  I listened to it on my Creative Zen Vision:M during my commute to and from work.  It took me about a month to listen to the 24 hours of reading.   The biggest problem with purchasing an audio book is that I do not have a tangible book with paper to refer to when writing this review.
Why I am buying this book for my cousin:

  1. To give him an idea of what types of skills will/may be important in the years ahead.  It’s not just about becoming an engineer, or a programmer, or lawyer.  It’s about understanding how to communicate, synthesize,  and innovate.  These are the types of things that will help him compete in the global job market.
  2. It will help him question some of the assumptions that he (probably) has regarding our (U.S.) role in the global economy.  My generation took/takes for granted that the U.S. is and will always be THE global force when it comes to economics, innovation, and education.  With the flat world we we have to suspend the above assumptions.
  3. He needs something to do over the summer–it’s not a short book.
  4. My Cousin is a smart musician type and is going to be studying in a fine arts department.  I think The World is Flat could really help him to see his talents and potential from a new perspective.

I think a take-away from the book is that this is an era of extreme opportunity, and we must take advantage of it.  If we do not take advantage of the opportunities, we will no longer enjoy the wealth and prosperity we have today.  Good luck, Cuz.

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