- January 6, 2015
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I really enjoyed this article by Liz Ryan, CEO and Founder of Human Workplace: “Everyone is Replaceable” and Other Business Lies.
I’m biased. I have always felt that people matter. Business is a human endeavor, at its core. But I love finding someone else’s way of articulating that message, and Liz hits it on the head:
Some people believe that the best part of the Industrial Revolution was the idea to mechanize work — to chop up a process into such small parts that a trained rhesus monkey could be trained to do any one of the parts in no time. In fact, that process of dumbing down the work that our employees perform is the worst idea the business world has ever had.
Right now someone is reading this and thinking “isn’t that what BPM is all about? Isn’t the point of process to make people replaceable?” No. It is not. The point of BPM, and process, is to eliminate the trained monkey elements, not to orchestrate them. We want software to do the trained monkey parts of any process, leaving the important bits for the people. As Liz says:
If we aren’t hiring people to do complicated things and use their brains every day at work, then we should automate our processes and be done with it.
Liz goes on to tackle other business “lies” like “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. The usual saying is “if you’re not measuring it you’re not managing it” but she rightly points out that there are things we manage to that aren’t measured:
You can manage all kinds of things that you can’t measure, like the goodwill of your customers and the good energy on your team. Not only can you manage them, you must. In business, managing the intangibles is much more important than managing columns and rows.
And maybe that’s why when you see a successful business team it is so hard to pin down exactly what it is that they’re doing right. The intangibles are just out of reach for people who are solely focused on metrics.
So as you go forth into the world to practice BPM, keep in mind the human element. Humanize the process, the user experience, the outcomes. People are the whole point of this endeavor.