ebizQ Discussions Worth Reading

Scott Francis
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There have been a few ebizQ BPM discussions lately that I haven’t added to but which I think are worth reading because the most important perspectives have been well represented and argued.

First, there’s the “What does it mean to manage by process” discussion.  Interestingly many of the responses were cynical (not terribly productive in my view).  But there was a brief discussion about whether creative / innovation efforts are processes.  Of course they are governed by processes (especially when they’re as refined as Apple’s innovation and product development processes).  But people still want to persist in believing creativity is divine inspiration instead of perspiration, and focused, disciplined effort…

Second, there’s the discussion on Dark Processes. I think not everyone was familiar with the term Dark Process, but it refers to processes that aren’t currently under governance.  One manufacturer used to refer to these ungoverned processes as “hidden factories”.  Of course, these processes usually exist because employees have to work around the existing systems and bureaucracy to get their job done.  So it is in the interest of most firms to fix the systems, or provide better systems, such that workarounds aren’t necessary (this isn’t a governance issue as much as it is a capability and flexibility issue).

But of course the cynicism is still there as Emiel Kelly says: “processes….isn’t that another attempt of vendors to sell their process mining stuff?” But this misses the point.  Max Pucher has the best response overall, in my judgment:

My proposition: What is called dark processes is simply what keeps a company running against its organizational restraints. Companies are run by people who cooperate willfully towards an agreed upon purpose! PEOPLE COLLABORATE! That is process. PEOPLE who follow flows don’t collaborate and they don’t care about achieving goals.

But then he goes on to say: “BPM experts propose that when you don’t have a flow then there will be chaos and bills won’t be paid. Most bills aren’t paid today because the money isn’t there not because there is no process.”  And I have to disagree with this example, though it doesn’t disprove his point above, which I agree with (funny how that works).  Most bills that don’t get paid are not a result of lack of funds, but a lack of process, or lack of accountability.  It isn’t the check lost in the mail, it is the invoice lost in the mail, or the approval lost in the (e)mail.

Third, there’s “What is a company doing when it says it has implemented BPM?” – kind of a Rorschach test for how you feel about what BPM is.  The obvious interpretation is that “implemented BPM” implies that you take a BPM-informed approach to your business and your processes. It is a journey not a destination, and as result it isn’t something you put in the rearview mirror except that you *can* establish BPM as the “standard operating procedure” for how you approach defining, improving, and sustaining process in your organization.

Scott Menter gets my vote for best response:

But as I have the benefit of having worked with a number of customers who have, indeed, “implemented BPM”, allow me to dissent. After all, the question wasn’t about companies who said they are “all done implementing BPM”, it’s about companies that say they have done such an implementation.

It’s like brushing your teeth. You brushed your teeth this morning. You’ll brush them again tonight (I hope). You continue to eat, and the nasty little critters that cause cavities continue to do their thing, so you keep brushing. As long as a company is building new processes and improving old ones, it will have the opportunity to continue “implementing” BPM.