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Some further food for thought… #BPM #Process

So my challenge did elicit some good discussion, and also the note on Taylorism on the following post (thanks Regis :-)) prompted some further thinking on my part.

Firstly, and I think most importantly dear readers, although we may differ on our definitions of BPM, you need to understand my definition to ensure that you understand my thoughts. And I think from reading some of the comments  we are at odds as to the scope of the topic on which we’re trying to communicate!!

“communication is not what you say, it’s what the other person hears…”

Max’s reply to one of the comments on his blog illustrates this nicely:

“…what I see from Social being tacked onto orthodox BPMS today I wonder how that would happen with all the complexity and bureaucracy needed ….”

I however, am NOT talking about BPMS; I am NOT restricting my use of the term ‘process’ or ‘BPM’ to mean just the automation of processes.

I blogged here about it so I won’t repeat myself in detail, suffice it to say that in my mind BPM should mean exactly what it says; Business Process Management, i.e:

“the management of all of an organization’s processes”

NOT  something like this which (euphemistically) appears to be most people’s definition:

“management of those processes that we can automate in some kind of system, typically called a BPMS”

Clearly the second definition is a subset of the first, but also implies much more structure (a transactional IT system) and is what I think Max and other commentators rail against when they talk about the rigidity of the systems.

Let’s also pick up the comment about Taylorism above. As a brief FYI it was considered to be the first real attempt to apply science to management thinking, had apparent influences from reductionism and suffered from a similar backlash (as did scientific reductionism) as evidenced by Regis’ comment.

However, as in most things in life, a black and white perspective doesn’t serve us here as there is no question that a certain amount of reductionism in analysis and Taylorism in design is extremely useful in creating more efficient business processes. Indeed these  ideas have without doubt had an enormous impact in improving operational efficiency over the last century.

The big question (;-)) however is how much to apply to which processes in an organization. Max, I think we disagree on some things however on this we can totally agree;

“I propose the best businesses are those where the innovative powers come from within and from the bottom of the hierarchy – from its people!

and therefore building process structures that stifle people’s innovation and ideas are worse than useless.

However, (again black-and-white thinking doesn’t serve us) to therefore say that standardization is blanket wrong is unthinking dogma driven from principle, rather than the informed result of some sensible thinking.

The Customer Operations Director of Best Buy Europe said;

“Standardization liberates people”

meaning that removing the operational pain of not having the easy, standard process information to hand about how to do things , directly related to the Customer Journey, freed people up and gave them more time to interact better with their customers. The results have been not short of astonishing in terms of Customer Satisfaction scores, volume of sales etc, as I mentioned in the original ‘argument‘ post

Standardization therefore doesn’t disempower people, on the contrary, if done right, it empowers them!

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