Tag archives for Leadership

BPM Status and Learnings

Business process management (BPM) has not yet matured enough to be promoting best-practices or featuring large clear success stories. Still, BPM holds huge promise. It shows no signs of going away and process pundits are giving it increasingly serious consideration.  In general, the status is hopeful or that it might be starting to stabilize and mature. Companies with significant process challenges should stay closely tuned.

BPM has a lingering identity issue. Most business performance topics fall predominantly into one of the elements of the people-process-technology frame of reference, but BPM is all over. BPM has process in its name, but more than most topics, it resists clean classification.  Maybe that’s the nature of BPM as a relatively new topic, and this contributes to the identity issue because it sometimes tends to look like all things to all people.


  1. BPM does not absolve a business from needing to have a solid process discipline. The fundamental questions of process ownership and challenges of crossing organizational boundaries become more visible and still have to be addressed. Without enlightened leadership, BPM (or really any change initiative) might not even start, or the results will be constrained. This is tied to the concerns for BPM’s cultural fit, and how an adoption program should be approached. Certainly there are many implications behind process ownership, but the more telling or insightful question might be who owns the BPM adoption program.
  2. BPM requires extraordinarily robust communications to manage all the process content.  Here implied is one of the reasons business people don’t really want to manage capture of the processes. But neither can it be left solely to IT following the BPMN software-definition language. (BPMN is rigorous but too technical for most). Communications is a prime example of where business-IT fusion is needed to get down to the reality of work flow between desks and machines, handling exceptions, and gaining team understanding and agreement.  Delivering on communications is necessary and good, but beware the tendency some have shown to think of BPM as “just a documentation tool”.
  3. BPM needs to be interrelated with businesses’ core improvement/change initiatives.  In the end, just as it is with fundamental process discipline, it comes down to quality-oriented fundamentals and practices to address variability and handle never ending change. Here it is suggested to promote pro-activity and flexibility with eyes open because BPM will not be neutral with regard to lean, six sigma/DFSS, agile software development practices, the business model at large, the basic quest for innovation, promotion of desired cultural characteristics, performance metrics, other reference models, etc.
  4. BPM requires dedication of skilled people that can represent and facilitate the business and strategy.  While everybody needs to know how they support and tie to the strategy, this takes on important deeper dimension for those who are core to BPM.  Certainly these are people that can be instrumental and leading and entrusted with regard to points 1, 2 and 3 above, while simultaneously having  solid appreciation for the IT implications.

A holistic view of BPM suggests it should be a clear reliable path for keeping strategy aligned with the design and support structure of the business. However, BPM now needs to get beyond the old impasse, where C-level executives aren’t seeing the level and surety of results to invest, while results aren’t being achieved because the investment isn’t there.  To achieve the potential, there will need to be better ownership of BPM by the people running the business.  And this probably won’t happen without acknowledgement that things haven’t worked or need to work substantially better.

While there is some uber logic to the ordering of these learnings/observations/opinions, it seems most practical to start with assuring the right people.  In other words, points 1, 2, and 3 will require a core set of people to get meaningfully started. If you are committed and starting or if you simply want to do the diligence, you can hardly go wrong by retaining the right BPM-skilled/aware people since they will always be a tremendous resource.

Freebies to Apply Competitive Strategy

These things are not only free, they’re important. Regardless of where you sit in the company or how big it is, one size fits all. There is no schedule – you can do these now or anytime. It’s up to you. And good for you if they’re already habit.

Think Strategically

Put yourself in the place of the business owner, be and act like her/him, maybe with a magic wand. Think about the big picture. Don’t be consumed by tactical thinking. Look outward, with a customer and market orientation.

Understand Customer Needs

Know your customer, and your customer’s customer.  Understand what your customer is trying to do, how they are doing it, how they measure success, and how others measure them.

Uncover Innovation and Value

Be committed to continuous learning. Learn to learn, and do it. Network, formally and informally, and interact with all levels of your teams. Forge strategic partnerships and alliances. Be a hub of communication with an attitude of plenty.  Be involved and demonstrate endless curiosity. Develop personal relationships and commitments. Don’t be afraid to show you care and that you don’t know everything.

Execute and Work to Closure

Work to scale with your customer, giving them what they need now, knowing that you can build on it. Get value-adding things done in the here-and-now, with consideration for your customer’s specific situation and abilities. Done right, this is more a sense of purpose and conviction than urgency.

Embrace and Promote Change

Never forget that the things above (really everything) has to be done in context of constant change. You have to be in touch with change and facilitate it. Make time and build a reasonable working understanding of what it takes to change organization, culture, and technology at various levels. Don’t fight it – you cannot win.

The Rising Challenge of Making the Right Decisions

Like a person, a business is an organism that requires many decisions be constantly made, small ones and large ones.  In aggregate, they determine the functioning of the business. There are many decision dynamics to consider – for example, looking at how decisions are made and assessing their consequences. A situation can render a seemingly small decision critical. Or a proclamation from above can alienate and confuse the people expected to support it. Of course some decisions are more easily made in the proverbial vacuum. And how often is it  that someone with a business need or opportunity is unable to make the decision and is unable to see the path to influence it and get it properly made? Decisions are fundamental to performance, governance, risk management, and control.

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Everyone in the Enterprise Needs to Know How They Contribute to the Goals and Objectives

Imagine what it would mean if every employee knew how they contribute to the company goals and objectives. Making sure they know can be pursued as part of a human resource strategy. You can think of it as an effort to achieve high performance teaming, or to harness the full power of the team.

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