Friday, January 24, 2014

A Popular Process

Process thinking is more fundamentally an architecture thinking, it need to be holistic, cohesive, and balancing

Process is more often not popular, because many people either do not understand the value of process, or they believe processes do not directly contribute to their own functional needs. Process is unpopular also because it makes people think. But nobody is educating them as to why thinking about it is good. There are many other valid reasons, depending on the organizations culture. But processes underpin business capabilities. Process is pillar of modern company. How to make it popular though?

Clarify the purpose of process: The word "process" is unpopular because of "fool me once shame on me and fool me twice shame on you syndrome". There is still a fundamental gap of defining the purpose of WHY is something and defining the steps HOW to get there. The latter is the promise of simplicity, the former is a continuous effort and while more promising in the long term it might discourage those who are looking for instant results. The purpose of process is to ensure that you have the tools, resources and skills you need to do your job. Once identified, the process management is to ensure you are doing job right
- Place valuable information at the tips of their fingertips
- Greater control of their organizations
- Financial return on investment (Total P&L conversation) 

Process means different things to the different people: At the top, people want to know the benefits in terms of strategic, financials, operational improvement, and alignment to objectives and so on. Process thinking is more fundamentally an architecture thinking, it need to be holistic, cohesive, and balancing, even more essentially, process thinking is about strategic thinking upon how to delight customer, optimize cost structure, and critical thinking, such as challenging the outdated thinking or the old way of doing things, etc. so if process is unpopular, it indicates the culture inertial in the organization. Thus, to make it work, processes must be set in the context of the enterprise at the same level with the people and technology that execute them. That is, in the enterprise architecture context. Delivering the process conversation would be easier if the correct conversation was being expressed to the right audience.

From outside-in view, process is to delighting customer. Process adds layers to getting a solution. Process is also as effective as the hired staff to implement them. So in the real work, the low mature process may looks like a roadblock to getting the customer what they want and when they want it. It's best to streamline that process and provide its value otherwise it will not be a welcomed addition to a work stream. At high mature level, process will enable business agility and delight customers as well.

Process agility: It is more gratifying to develop target operating models that enable change, combining strategies, processes, systems and performance models into a single approach. Process becomes a bad word when people start quoting process as a reason for not doing something rather than as a means to achieve the result. Especially in organizations with unstructured methods of work, people will do what is convenient and throw a process rule book at everything else. On the other side, there is a tendency to blindly follow process rather than think about the outcome. Often processes build in steps which are not used by anyone, but the auditors to justify their fees. The trick is to have "just enough" process precision to ensure alignment and effectiveness; where fluidity and variability are critical, leave it loose; where precision is required to have very precise processes.

There are many reasons to make process unpopular, but only one reason to make it popular, people oriented, it is either for delighting customers or improving employees satisfaction by enabling them to do work well.


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