MWD Takes Equating BPM with Taylorism to Task

Post by
Scott Francis

Neil Ward-Dutton of MWD Advisors takes issue with equating BPM with Taylorism:

So I was really surprised to find all the tweets pointing to this post (?You failed at Customer Service, so now try Social Processes?), which seemed to be equating BPM with slavish application of Taylorism and an overly internal perspective that is acting as a malign force in organisations claiming they?re improving customer service.


The truth is that BPM is a tool that can be applied in a number of ways. Yes, it can be applied to business processes to drive out waste, and this is often the focus. It?s not always done well. But I?ve also found BPM to be practiced very effectively in dealing with customer service improvement issues. Here efficiency can be one of the concerns, but it?s not the only one. And where BPM succeeds, a customer-first perspective is the overarching view taken.

I find myself in agreement.? The final thought on this from Neil:

The point is, a fool with a tool is still a tool. BPM is a tool. A stupid know-nothing who is hell-bent on slavishly applying Taylorism in a customer service environment can cock things up royally using BPM practice, but that?s not BPM?s fault.

The Navy Seals have an expression for this in the US, that I think is appropriate (and which I may not paraphrase quite right):? "Equip the man, don't man the equipment."? BPM should be equipping process participants. But in order to carve out a space in the blogosphere or for their product offerings, some are finding need to criticize the very idea of BPM, rather than the specific implementations or practitioners who appear to be the problem.? Having seen a "bad" implementation of BPM, they've determined that BPM = Taylor = dehumanizing.? The only explanation offered for those who say that BPM is working (for themselves or their clients) is that they're mistaken, or talking their own book.? If the ROI is big, it can't possibly be right.? If customer satisfaction improves, it isn't being measured over a long enough time frame.

It doesn't mean BPM answers every problem, but clearly managing your business processes (BPM) can help you improve customer service.? To argue otherwise doesn't make much sense - unless you are arguing with the specifics of how to manage the business processes (which isn't the same thing as saying you shouldn't use BPM at all) - a difference of tactics or approach, not a difference of doing or not doing.

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