Archive for June, 2007

I didn’t realize how hard it would be to post regularly.  In May, I had a whole bunch of ideas, energy, and focus.  I lost some of that energy as of late.  I have a baby on the way (our third), so I’ve been concentrating on other things like building furniture and maintaining my sanity.  I have a couple of articles in the pipleline, so you should see something from me soon (if #3 doesn’t make his appearance before then)…


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Processes are easy to change. 

Model the current process, Identify areas for improvement, align new process with the customer expectations, and implement changes.  Easy, right?  Right.

All we need now is a culture to promote this.

I’m working on process right now where there are some very simple changes that can be made to add significant value to the process.  They are not difficult changes.  So why hasn’t anyone else thought of these improvements.  I have some ideas and they all have something to with culture:

  1. Few people are thinking about how to change the process.  The organization has not instilled a culture of change into our employees.  Executive management does not turn down good ideas, but they also do not expect ideas from the rank and file.  The culture has deemed it acceptable to keep doing things as they have been done.
  2. Silos.  We all know what silos do: they compartmentalize all the tasks of our companies.  It’s safe to be in a silo.  I know what department X wants from me and they know what to deliver to me.  As long as they can deliver it to me (through interoffice mail or email or onto the FTP site) on time, we can all get along.  There is little innovation associated with silos, because everyone is comfortable.
  3. Those that do think about change do not break free from the current constraints.  System constraints, business rules, and departmental rules are rarely questioned by employees.   For example, If a department is responsible to get a document sent to another department in a certain format, no one questions the format.  The format may have been developed years ago, because of certain typesetting requirements.  Folks, MSWord eliminated that requirement 10 years ago.  Move on!

Toyota is company that long ago broke through the chains of a stagnant culture.  Each employee has the responsibility to make changes to processes.  Continuous process improvement is not just for the high achievers at Toyota.  In the ChangeThis Manifesto, Elegant Solutions: Breakthrough Thinking the Toyota Way, Matthew E. May describes this culture of change:

Like a number of other market leaders, Toyota recognizes that company wide innovation is a matter of assembling a group of talented people in an environment where innovation is required by everyone at every level. To create that environment, Toyota employs systems and structures that neutralize the typical barriers to ingenuity and release individuals to realize significance through their work.

So, the lesson is that Business Process Management should not only be about managing a process for today, it should also be about instilling a culture of change.  As you implement your BPM solutions understand that the process you are implementing is for yesterday’s requirements.  If you help to implement a culture of change as part of your project, the legacy will be even more significant.



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Terry Schurter formerly of BPMG sent out an email yesterday to BPMG members that he has resigned "under duress" from BPMG.  Hmmm.  It looks like BPMG no longer has the backing of Terry and (maybe) Steve Towers, BPMG’s most important assets.   

Mark McGregor, a shareholder of BPMG, has reported that although Steve Towers is still on as a director and shareholder of BPMG, he has relinquished executive powers. 

I took BPMG training back in December, and Steve Towers was the instructor. The training was simply fantastic, because Steve has that rare ability to connect with his trainees.  Not only did I walk away from the training with a new perspective on Business Process Management, but I walked away with an invaluable analysis tool.  I’ve written a little bit about BPMG here, here, and here.

So now what?  It looks as though Terry and company (some former BPMG folks) have setup shop as Bennu Group and has taken the BPMG.org domain in the meantime.  It looks like they are even recycling some of the content from BPMG.org as well (See here for an example-Good Stuff!)  The Bennu Group website identifies Steve Towers as a "Bennu Group Associate" and one of their Training Coaches. BPMG can temporarily be found at http://processperformance.com.

This coup weakens a voice in the BPM world that has tried to center the focus on process and customer.  I hope that at least one of these two groups (BPMG or Bennu) can break through this soap opera (yes, that’s what it looks like to us "customers") and once again provide that strong outside-in voice.

As this disturbance works itself out, I’d like to offer my humble couple of suggestions to the groups:

  1. Stop using the words "more to come on that."  It belittles your product and your customers.  It gives you the persona of a cable news show.  I’ll keep coming back to your site if the content is valuable.
  2. Provide an open forum for your blog posts (i.e. open the comments).  Yes, the web has become a social platform.  The people that read your posts expect your blog posts be no different than any other.  I, for one, have felt quite constrained by the inability to comment on your blog posts.  (Note: almost all of my comments would have been in support of your writing!)  You may get some naysayers to chime in, but they are important too!

I do hope that this blows over quickly, so that the voices of the Outside-In approach can regain the credibility they once had. 

Update (6/7/2007): Mark McGregor has posted an update to the saga here.  Thanks Mark!

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