3 Universal Truths About Business Process Management

The more you understand something, the more you're able to develop and apply adequate concepts to explain it, the less complex and chaotic it becomes. This requires a fundamental understanding of what's being done, how it's being done, and why it's being done.

When understanding produces innovation, it's coupled with the ability to differentiate between seemingly similar objects, and/or finding similarities between seemingly unrelated objects. These are the core objectives of process management. When realized, these objectives enable companies to increase customer value, lower operating costs and differentiate themselves from the competition.

Many think of people as differentiators, because they're a company's costliest and most valuable asset. Over time, most companies attempt to improve the output of their people through technological advancements (hardware, software or other tools intended to change workflows). Unfortunately, many of these improvements fail to achieve optimal results, due to the absence of a structured, repeatable, reliable and flexible framework designed to optimize company performance levels, i.e., a process.

A standard process for optimization - combined with technology supporting people - forms a critical foundation for companies serious about calling themselves "world class" or "industry leader." However, processes are not only managed from the top-down. They're also managed from the bottom-up. To understand an organization's process and technology needs, three universal truths about the human condition should be acknowledged.

First, given a choice, people will almost always choose the action that's quickest, easiest and/or most familiar - from their perspective. In order to affect change, you need to change the perspective people have on their processes, as well as their choices for getting them done.

Change often introduces complexity and uncertainty. The more complicated an issue is, the more people are prone to oversimplify the solution, in an effort to find the quickest, easiest and/or most familiar path. Changing this mindset often requires an executive mandate, which can be easier said than done, because many executives do not excel at balancing strategic planning and tactical execution.

A mature process management program reflects an optimal balance of strategic planning and tactical execution. Simply stated, tactical execution is the process of getting things done. Strategic planning is the analysis needed to get things done better, faster or cheaper.

Strategic planning cannot be implemented without tactical execution, and tactical execution cannot be made optimally efficient without strategic planning. Put another way, a company cannot exist without tactical execution, but its organic growth will always be impeded without strategic planning. Unfortunately, many companies become so overwhelmed with the immediacy of fulfilling tactical requirements, they fail to plan (and execute) strategically.

This evokes the second universal truth. Many organizations are so internally focused, management cannot see the extent to which their processes are broken. In this environment, hard work is often mistaken for results, and it's exceedingly difficult to distinguish controllable objectives from those that can merely be influenced.

When these organizations finally notice the pieces of broken processes lying around them, the reaction is often a series of ad hoc attempts to patch things back together, because they don't know how to start over by applying a metrics-driven approach to root cause analysis. The end result is time, money and energy repeatedly wasted fixing things destined to break again.

The irony is that a company's resistance to change is often proportionate to the past success it's enjoyed with processes and business models that no longer work. This produces an organization lacking the agility and coordination to respond and adjust to changing technology demands, market conditions and personnel needs. This is the third universal truth. Understanding and accepting these truths is required, before the journey toward business process management optimization can begin.

- KM

Kent Messner is the Principal consultant at Maltese Process Management http://www.malteseprocess.com

3 Universal Truths About Business Process Management http://process.ezinemark.com/3-universal-truths-about-business-process-management-4ea3d262983.html

The more you understand something, the more you're able to develop and apply adequate concepts to explain it, the less complex and chaotic it becomes. This requires a fundamental understanding of what's being done, how it's being done, and why it's being done.

When understanding produces innovation, it's coupled with the ability to differentiate between seemingly similar objects, and/or finding similarities between seemingly unrelated objects. These are the core objectives of process management. When realized, these objectives enable companies to increase customer value, lower operating costs and differentiate themselves from the competition.

Many think of people as differentiators, because they're a company's costliest and most valuable asset. Over time, most companies attempt to improve the output of their people through technological advancements (hardware, software or other tools intended to change workflows). Unfortunately, many of these improvements fail to achieve optimal results, due to the absence of a structured, repeatable, reliable and flexible framework designed to optimize company performance levels, i.e., a process.

A standard process for optimization - combined with technology supporting people - forms a critical foundation for companies serious about calling themselves "world class" or "industry leader." However, processes are not only managed from the top-down. They're also managed from the bottom-up. To understand an organization's process and technology needs, three universal truths about the human condition should be acknowledged.

First, given a choice, people will almost always choose the action that's quickest, easiest and/or most familiar - from their perspective. In order to affect change, you need to change the perspective people have on their processes, as well as their choices for getting them done.

Change often introduces complexity and uncertainty. The more complicated an issue is, the more people are prone to oversimplify the solution, in an effort to find the quickest, easiest and/or most familiar path. Changing this mindset often requires an executive mandate, which can be easier said than done, because many executives do not excel at balancing strategic planning and tactical execution.

A mature process management program reflects an optimal balance of strategic planning and tactical execution. Simply stated, tactical execution is the process of getting things done. Strategic planning is the analysis needed to get things done better, faster or cheaper.

Strategic planning cannot be implemented without tactical execution, and tactical execution cannot be made optimally efficient without strategic planning. Put another way, a company cannot exist without tactical execution, but its organic growth will always be impeded without strategic planning. Unfortunately, many companies become so overwhelmed with the immediacy of fulfilling tactical requirements, they fail to plan (and execute) strategically.

This evokes the second universal truth. Many organizations are so internally focused, management cannot see the extent to which their processes are broken. In this environment, hard work is often mistaken for results, and it's exceedingly difficult to distinguish controllable objectives from those that can merely be influenced.

When these organizations finally notice the pieces of broken processes lying around them, the reaction is often a series of ad hoc attempts to patch things back together, because they don't know how to start over by applying a metrics-driven approach to root cause analysis. The end result is time, money and energy repeatedly wasted fixing things destined to break again.

The irony is that a company's resistance to change is often proportionate to the past success it's enjoyed with processes and business models that no longer work. This produces an organization lacking the agility and coordination to respond and adjust to changing technology demands, market conditions and personnel needs. This is the third universal truth. Understanding and accepting these truths is required, before the journey toward business process management optimization can begin.

- KM

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