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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.