As Christine Cox writes in this article, Is Your Organization’s Process Governance Strong Enough? Here is How To Know, "The weaker the governance, the lower the maturity of the organization." What do you think?
Governance and Agility are oppostie ends of the BPM spectrum. Agility whilst maintaining great Customer eXperience is the true test of a company's maturity. Compliance is normally an external requirement which often drives the wrong (BPM) behaviours.
No. If you need governance (oversight and control) then the organisation is NOT mature. Like saying a child is mature when it does exactly what a gouvernante tells him/her.
An organisation is mature when executives provide clear objectives, management sets well-defined goals of customer satisfaction and the staff achieves them with their knowledge. Outcome is relevant not how it is achieved. Governance bureucracy will always be too late and know too little to make a difference.
Certainly,"Governance" is one of the keys, but it's not "the" key.... I'm a little tired of our profession's obsession with finding "The Key" to every challenge we face, in the vast majority of cases there isn't a single mountain to climb, rather than a range of mountains that all need to be summited.
With that caveat, I think it is definitely possible to have too much governance, so I reject the notion that "Stronger is better" when it comes to governance.
When working with clients, I describe a spectrum of governance which starts with the Dalai Lama, and ends with Stalin.
Dalai Lama governance relies on everyone seeing the intrinsic rightness of your policies and being spiritually moved to comply with them, while Stalin governance sets out a list of edicts and threatens anyone who disobeys with severe punishment if they break them.
Both of these approaches can be catastrophic. The Dalai Lama approach is essentially "no governance" and the Stalin approach is essentially centralised bureaucracy.
My preferred governance model lies in the middle - I describe it as the "Super Nanny" approach - If you're familiar with the TV Show, Super nanny governs by defining a whole domain of freedom - in which people (in her case "toddlers", in ours "business people") are encouraged to create, innovate, and imagine. But, that domain is given a very clear and unambiguous border which is governed with absolute consistency - if you break the rules you go to the naughty step.
The line in the article that made me pause was this one..."In short, you have a central group in charge of bringing the hammer down on the strength scale. "
I'm sure the overal message was intended to be more nuanced, but the Politbureau approach to BPM doesn't work. It has failed all over the place. It is not the future. Now, that isn't to say that in some domains centralised control is a bad thing, but governance should be powerful medicine, and too much of it can be as bad as not enough.
Maturity is one of those perjorative words. One which offsides objectors to prevent change.
It is used to justify not being innovative. Justifying being set in your ways.
We see this in risk averse markets - Health, Education, Government.
Because they are big decisions, organisations feel the need to hire the guy with a long track record in a big, slow organisation.
That puts them a couple of decades behind the times.
And the texts they read, the manuals they create, the processes they use, are similarly superannuated.
Systems rule and anyone who proposes change gets mired in bureaucracy - in "we've always done it this way", in "best practice" (meaning what everyone else has already moved on from) and in "is it mature?". It is the language of pushback.
But there is a reason why systems rule here.
These companies have forgotten about the customer.
Fickle individuals, who change their buying habits, want value for money and dislike contracts, procedures and complaint handling procedures.
These systems are designed to stop customers from upsetting the system.
And employees too. That pesky guy with a new, responsive idea that might threaten power structures, sinecures and fiefdoms.
In cheese, mature is another word for mouldy.
It is in business too.
Governance comes from the same stable.
It says "you aren't allowed to make decisions". Or respond to customer needs.
You have to do things the way they've always been done, because we can't be bothered to keep up with any variations.
Our systems can only work if we store everything the same way today as we did yesterday.
There is an answer.
In a Dynamic Process the systems are constantly evolving. Choosing the best over the rest in an AB test.
Governance thus evolves too. What was best last week is second best next week and third best the week after.
Mature processes are gently laid to rest as the organisation moves forward.
And the systems become living, breathing organisms, not aging, dying ones.
I'm looking at it from a CoE perspective and though others have more aspects to a CoE, competency center my view is always focused on expertise, re-usable assets and governance, in that order. With the up-front pre-requisite of putting the right, smart people in the right place centralized command and control, including governance, always beats the Agility thing. Always. Why? Because talent is always a resource constraint and putting the best and the brightest at the top and disseminating knowledge downward and outward from there has the most bang for the buck. If the best and the brightest can dictate (the governance piece) the methodology(ies), tools, assets, etc., the best outcomes occur. The trick, the inflection point, is identifying the best and the brightest throughout the delivery teams and LOBs as initiatives, efforts are effected throughout ever-expanding rings in the organization as the reach is extended out from the center.
Just my tuppence, but I've seen this pattern achieve greatest effect repeatedly whereas the Agility stuff devolves into ad hoc chaos more often than not. Agility, to me, is being able to not only react but pro-act quickly and effectively with precision. Smart people at the top drive that better, faster, quicker.
As usual, it should be a balance. Figurehttp://2.bp.blogspot.com/-8v6XjgtbdNI/Ul51jncRp0I/AAAAAAAABZE/KSf19eYF8yg/s1600/Conf2_2013-10-16_13-16-51_No-00.pngshows that lower levels of maturity can be achieved by organisational improvements (can be imposed) and highest levels of maturity need cultural improvements (can’t be imposed).
Another example (for Patrick) is from the most recent CRASH report, “The mix of Agile and Waterfall methods produced higher scores than either Agile of Waterfall methods used alone, suggesting that for business critical applications the value of agile and iterative methods is enhanced by the up-front architectural and design activity that characterized Waterfall methods.”
And, about establishing the dependency between governance and process maturity – governance is an #BPM application as shown in http://improving-bpm-systems.blogspot.ch/2015/03/enterprise-patterns-ghost.html
If we define maturity as the ability of an organization to successfully navigate its business plan with its business model (see: I'm not good at all with these definitions) then yes, I belive governance is key to maturity.
Governance is neither bureacracy, nor compliance - it is the ability to conduct yourself according to your own set of sustainable business rules and principles. You have to be able not only to change your rules coherently but also to abide by them as long as they are not challenged by the reality (from outside or from inside).
In order to dismantle this 80's myth on how employee empowerment is the perfect answer to all companies' woes, let's take two opposite examples:
Virgin Group - Richard Branson is quoted saying something along the lines: "if you take care of your employees, they ill take care of your business" - what a perfect example of an amazingly smooth and empowered organization. I could die happy right now if it weren't for the second example:
Enron. Enron's famous leadership style was empowering traders and other "knowledge" workers, like financial people or auditors to follow ecstatically one single management goal: maximization of shareholder value. Enron was a highly agile company, right? Management took care of its employees - high recognition, high bonuses, private jets. And employees took care of the management goal.
One small detail was missing: integrity.
Governance / maturity imply integrity. Agility does not.
Not sure about "maturity" (having never experienced it myself), but governance is an important driver for BPM—and also a potential stumbling block. We're focused on supporting "citizen developers", but citizens are rather famous for demanding governance. BPM offers citizen developers a platform that not only empowers them to thread governance throughout their applications, but also to rely on pre-configured rules and guardrails to prevent any unintentional line crossing.
The most important attribute is transparency. If you have transparency, then governance is another word for "someone who knows what they're doing paying attention".
We built Neches for Analysis with one kind of transparency in mind - transparency of the code quality and design issues. But what governance means depends upon what you're trying to govern:
- the process
- the development process/effort
- quality of outcomes for customers
- regulatory issues
I liked Bogdan’s post; we are on the same page. I’d add that in every company (unless it is very small, say 10 people), you as a CEO o or medium range manager, can NOT really know every people and how they work when nobody is looking.
And, that is my key argument. Everybody works fine when someone is looking, the thing is: will they when nobody is looking? The ideal is YES. The reality is NO. So, the best scenario is where you set the strategy at the first management level, give freedom to define tactics at the second level, and more freedom to implement them at the third (operative) level. BUT, you’ve got a strong control system to know if anything is going wrong, unethically or unaligned to business goals.
This is my empirical definition of governance.And with this definition, BPM is a great tool to improve governance, supporting the second and third level, and somehow the first level tool.
Pd: For those who speak Spanish, I’m attaching a link to a video of a study case at “National Firefighters Agency – Uruguay”, where the “Fire Fighting Measures Certification” process was automated. This is a really clear example of a process where using a BPMS really helped to improve governance following the previous definition, improving citizen’s service.
Though I sternly disagree, with what appears to be, Christine's definition of need on governance. From a philosophical view, process-management IS mostly NOT about control. Good process is the focused application of information/technology towards optimal outcomes (task oriented). The exception being those areas of function with absolute intolerance for deviation (i.e. clinical, high-risk, government policy). And, in my interpretation I include process definition and creation within process itself... there can be no boundary on BPM that excludes its own creation.
So, leaving Chirstine's thesis aside for now and returning to our discussion - isn't it a bit ironic that we seem to be shuddering a under the weight of managing the process of... managing Process itself? If we were together sitting at a round-table debate you'd see me single out the liberals with questions on what it means to succeed, its definition and measurement, and empirical examples for Real winners (ROI). Let historical reporting, in quantifying the SLA and KPI, be our final measuring stick in this debate.
We're not talking about abstract art here. This isn't finger painting. This is business... money, jobs, competition. Let the liberals be chased down by a pack of hungry lions! Let's see if they turn back and attempt debate on the governance of nature.
Governance is key to the growth and maturity for the rational organization. Win or lose, our tactics and strategy follow reason... they will be made in a predicted, repeatable, measured fashion. There will be methodology guiding our approach. That is how business succeeds.
NOTE: Politics, freedom, business... intentionally mixed (irresistible satire on this Sunday morning). I'm serious though on spotlighting the mixed definition of "control" versus "utilitarian" nature regarding the contemporary definition and context for human Task. It's all about knowledge and wisdom driving outcomes and their intrinsic dependencies on modern technology.