1. Peter Schooff
  2. Sherlock Holmes
  3. BPM Discussions
  4. Thursday, 08 December 2016
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As Dr. Mathias Kirchmer wrote here: "As a recent research study of The Gartner Group shows, only 13% of business meets their strategic goals."

Whatever the actual percentage is, do you think this indicates a failure of BPM, a failure to adopt BPM, or something else entirely?
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If you have strategic goals, you're already above the curve. However, once gaols are set comes the not so easy task of creating a tactical plan of steps and tools necessary to achieve those goals. Now let's assume you're an amazingly efficient manager and you've gotten that down as well.

Now, this is where most managers fail: communicating your goals, the tactics necessary to meet them, and the tools you want used to your employees and then also getting them to actually deploy your strategy, well, that takes an entirely different skill set that not all managers have.

This is partly why employee engagement has become such a huge buzzword in HR, and why engagement tools are everywhere. Engaged employees are those employees that drink from the company cool-aid and want it to succeed. How do you engage your employees? Well, that's for another thread entirely.
  1. https://connecteam.com/blog
Re: " . . not so easy task of creating a tactical plan of steps"

This is interesting to me.

Is creating a tactical plan of steps not what operational managers are supposed to excel at? If yes, then why is it "not so easy"?

Why should organizations keep people in place who are not excellent at what they are supposed to be doing?

As for selecting tools, I suppose the proliferation of tools complicates the selection, but my take is there is real scarcity of work/workflow management environments capable of hosting BPM, CRM, RALB, FOMM, auto-recording of BPM\template\instance data plus interoperability, - the corporations at risk for failure are the ones that pick up on BPM as a discipline or method that has great potential but box themselves in via selection of tools that only take them to the level where the "end" product is a process-map-on-paper.

No worries, many of the folks in charge of strategy are also adept at painting themselves in a corner by failing to understand that strategic planning is not something one can do on the corner of an envelope.
I forgot ECM
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If you don't operationalize how to achieve those strategic goals then they are just hallucinations.
What would you recommend to help to "operationalize how to achieve those strategic goals" ?
A methodology is needed for operationalization - first, either the top down or the bottom up has to prepare ROIs for each significant initiative designed to contribute to achieving those goals. Any that do not contribute (directly or indirectly) show never get to see the light of day.

People have become disenchanted with ROIs as being "too financial" - they know it's not always only about money.

So, move on to SROIs but make sure these have explicit goals\objectives that allow measuring and assessment of progress (i.e. BPM, CRM, ECM, RALB, FOMM, interoperability)

The last phase of wraparound (data collection, consolidation and interpretation/analysis) is what sets the foundation for process improvement, trending of KPIs, improved decision making, predictive analytics and occasional tweaking of strategy.

Failure to close the loop results in isolation of strategy and operations.

It's beyond my level of comprehension why folks don't come to realize that free-form-search Kbases are the environment choice for pretty much everything relating to strategy formulation, ranking of initiatives, funding and wraparound from operations. If you can't see the big picture then how can you steer the ship?


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I hate to say it, but most businesses don't have clear strategic goals. Most of the time businesses are too busy trying to build castles on top of quicksand to stop and think about the bigger picture and make strategic goals... let alone achieve them.
Agree about "to stop" but what would you recommend to help people "think about the bigger picture and make strategic goals" ?
If one thinks about being an astronaut, this does not mean they can ever hope to become one.

So, not sure if there is anything any of us can do other than coach people who have the background, experience etc to do strategic planning.

Some people have the skill set to think about the big picture and go through the process of evolving strategic initiatives, filtering them and funding them, many do not.

Many of the ones who might be capable have too many irons in the fire and cannot take the required time to spend on strategy.
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Perhaps we should start with the question "How many businesses really have strategic goals?"
Founder at John Reynolds' Venture LLC - Creator of ¿?Trules™ for drama free decisions
  1. Emiel Kelly
  2. 2 years ago
  3. #2919
"Making more money than last year" is indeed the most ambitious strategic goal you'll see often.
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Normally I wouldn't have anything to comment on this question, since it's very generic and only remotely touches upon execution (i.e. BPM).
But yesterday I had a deep discussion with a partner that was trying to send me some exotic business simply because "my BPM platform could handle it". I said no, because even if we could handle this, we wouldn't want to. We simply do not want to create solutions for that particular market.
Setting aside the obvious questions about whether companies do have strategic goals or if they even know how to set them properly, in a nutshell, lack of strategic discipline may be the most common cause for strategy failure.
This not only encompases the clear "operationalizing your strategy" as Scott well put it, but it also includes:
a/ defining what your strategy is NOT;
b/ continuously saying NO to those strategic options that look like quick wins but may turn out to be permanent resource hogs (like a dominant customer or partner);
c/ continuously evaluating strategic YES options, too.
In a world where "pivoting" is sexy and start-ups are hungry for any kind of validating revenue, it is even more difficult for a start-up to say NO to immediately profitable business. Yet, we did it because we believe strategic discipline will pay out more in the long term.
I do not equate strategic discipline with dogma - yes, we could address other markets as well, as long as we identify strategic advantages for our platform.
CEO, Co-founder, Profluo
RE "those strategic options that look like quick wins but may turn out to be permanent resource hogs " sure but could you propose any practical and explicit way to carry out such an input quality check?
@Alex - nothing that is systemically explicit, but you know one when you see one. Examples:
a/ when there is a new customer that says: "I'll give you this project, it's 1 year long and very interesting, but I need your team to focus exclusively on this, because it's very important to me". I walked away from two such opportunities.
b/ when one customer wants only your consulting skills and this makes you unavailable for platform architecture design and implementation.
c/ a large partner that says: "I sign with you a huge pipeline of products, but you will implement whatever I say to you, for the cost I tell you, and payments are back-to-back with the customer payments"
@Bogdan, at least there are some patterns.
a/ - imposed solution -- I use example of a doctor or lawyer to avoid this; also, the best option is to find an absurd example from the core business of the client, e.g. a president of a football club imposes a playing tactic on the coach.
b/ - knowledge milking, its misusing and blaming the knowledge source,e.g. a football club hires a coach only for a pre-season preparation and then playing without a coach at all.
c/ - thus many small and medium enterprises explicitly do not want to work with huge software companies, e.g. not a fair game
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The reason why corporations fail at strategy is they lack a proper methodology for maintaining an inventory of their corporate assets, making decisions re which initiatives to pursue (easy/difficult, risk/uncertainty, quick ROI/long ROI, fit with strategy/mission), setting goals/objectives for those initiatives, allocating scarce resources (avoiding over-allocation).

They are somewhat lax in funding initiatives and often don't bother to periodically assess progress, they define KPIs and then obsessively track performance against these KPIs oftentimes without realizing that things can change and that a particular KPI needs to change or be outright eliminated/replaced.

So, the solution is improved methods of evolving strategy and finding ways and means of narrowing the gap between operations and strategy. The two groups often almost work in isolation with different timeframes of interest and different mindsets.

The failure has something to do with BPM (i.e more fails without BPM) but the problem cannot be solved by BPM alone (i.e. BPM is an operational methodology, strategy needs a different methodology).
  1. http://www.kwkeirstead.wordpress.com
Agree " but the problem cannot be solved by BPM alone" -- what is missing?
Well, as Rachel points out they first have to " . . . stop and think about the bigger picture".

Except that if a manager is totally focused on firefighting, he/she will typically never find the time to look at the big picture.

Just as we discover daily with operational folks that some cannot "think process", it takes a particular mind set, reasoning/guessing, judgment and experience to evolve strategic plans.

Top management, on their own, are either able to do it or not do it.

Coaching on methods that work helps, but working tools are needed in addition to this because strategy typically cannot be done on the back of an envelope.

My preference is to compare strategic planning with law enforcement investigations - both require that you connect-the-dots.

So, I give them a connect-the-dots sandbox and try to get them to designate a resource who will manage the tools under the direction of top management.

RE " think about the bigger picture" this is, certainly, mandatory, but, unfortunately, not sufficient.
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As @Bogdan says, the question appears "generic", but perhaps this is deceptive. Let's do something interesting and tie the question of strategy to the mania for agility and disruption. If you don't know who you are -- if you have no "identity" -- then all change is mere opportunism. And you are then subject to Darwinian laws of natural selection. There will be "logistics companies", as a class. Whether you as unthinking opportunist survives though is doubtful. There is even a small amount of research to suggest that opportunism is a random walk, instead of a purposeful journey. An adaptive walk to oblivion . . .

“In fact, the questions of where to grow, how to acquire, and what should be in the portfolio are mere tactics in the context of more existential questions: Who are we? What are we better at than any other company? How do we create value for our customers and shareholders? If you don’t start here, your growth, M&A, and portfolio decisions will add up to nothing more than a random walk through the countryside. Sooner or later you’ll lose your identity, and then your way. In other words, you can’t build a winning strategy if you don’t know who you are.”

You Can’t Build a Winning Strategy If You Don’t Know Who You Are
by Ken Favaro with Paul Leinwand and Nadia Kubis
strategy+business, June 10, 2013
@John, perfect response. I was vague too on how to reply to this generic question. You definitely found an excellent allusion on the topic.
RE 'If you don't know who you are -- if you have no "identity" ' I am not sure that Gartner was talking to those companies.
@John . . .

Excellent point "If you don't know who you are". Sounds a lot like "mission" to me.

Next, we have "if you don't know where you want to go", (strategy)

I have a quote from Lewis Carrol that covers that. . .

Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don't much care where -.
Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
  1. John Morris
  2. 1 year ago
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Nice reference @Walter!
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Goals are goals, not desires.
And this is a very common misunderstanding.

I have seen, and I have been in this position many times. Entrepreneurs, CEO's and also board members usually set Goals as desires, not as the consequence of a planned, well executed, set of viable and feasible steps.

Strategic maps can help on defining this plan, but they are not mandatory. A good planner, can clearly define realistic goals, and then setup a team, budget and actions to get there. And it doesn't mean that the goals should be modest or not ambitious; it means they are realistic.

There's nothing more demotivating for a CEO, board members, and mainly for employees that not only not reaching a goal, but failing hard at it because it was simply an utopia.
CEO at Flokzu Cloud BPM Suite

I wrote a specific article (Part II of V) three years ago on Goals/Objectives that expands on the point you raised.


Most of what is in there seems valid today.

Elsewhere, I remember documenting a definition by Dr Russell Ackoff that clearly sorted out the difference between goals and objectives. Half of the people I talk to daily use the two terms in reverse of what Dr Ackoff recommended.

It's confusing in high level meetings to try to figure out what participants are taking about when they talk about "goals" and "objectives".
Here is the article that points to the source (i.e. “A Concept of Corporate Planning”, Russell L Ackoff, John Wiley & Sons 1970, Chapter 2 “Goals and Objectives”)

See "Your Goal, My Objective"

  1. John Morris
  2. 2 years ago
  3. #2923
Very nice all out Walter on goals versus objectives. And the two terms are both important and often not clearly defined. How about an approach from systems terminology? For example…
Goals are desired process system states ("the bearing is on spec at 100 degrees C"; "the ball is in the net"; "we manufacture widgets"; "we are profitable").
Objectives are desired project system outputs ("the bearing seal was replaced"; "the team scored a goal"; "we cut manufacturing costs by 5%"). From this perspective, an objective is also "a desired event".
@John.. exactly
Or for an opera
Goals; Act 1, Act 2, Act 3
Objective: curtain closing

It's important to define in advance what the states are (so we know when we get them and, hopefully, with data mining/analysis, so we can predict to some extent when we will get to each state.
The Objective is no different (we need to know when we get there and nice to be able to predict to some extent.

The scenarios seem to be . . .
a) Objective only, OK, but you don't have much control over the timespan
b) Goal only, OK, the goal is also your objective
c) Many objectives/many goals, OK, except that some goals relate more to certain objectives - no guarantee or need, in Case, that you meet all Objectives

When do Cases close?

Answer: When Case Managers close them.
RE "Goals as desires, not as the consequence of a planned, well executed, set of viable and feasible steps. " What comes first ENDS (i.e. goals, objectives, etc.) or MEANS (e.g. plans, rules, etc.) ?
You don't need to spend time/money on MEANS if you have not first defined the ENDS.

Doing nothing probably is best if you try to evolve MEANS before ENDS or if you never get around to defining the ENDS.
I think, it will be nice to solve analytically two opposite problems:
1) What MEANS I need to achieve those ENDS
2) What ENDS are achievable with may available MEANS.
#1 leans more toward tactical (how do we organize?) [less difficult]
#2 is the 'traditional strategic planning approach (we have assets, how do we make best use of these?) [more difficult]

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  • The market you're aimed at doesn't exist.
  • The market exists, but your strategy isn't sound.
  • The strategy is sound, but your execution is horrible.
  • Execution is great, but you're undercapitalized.
  • Capital is sufficient, but your competition is just better than you are.
  • The competition isn't strong, but that's mostly because the market you're aimed at doesn't exist.

Gee, I never did get to BPM, did I? :)
You weren't supposed to, Scott :-)
(but then again, you may have gotten to BPM when you touched upon execution :-) )
The market you're aimed at doesn't exist. – sure, BPM can’t help you with “market analysis study”, consider the systems approach, please.

The market exists, but your strategy isn't sound. – again, other than BPM techniques are necessary in this case.

The strategy is sound, but your execution is horrible. – this is the case for BPM (done properly, of course).

Execution is great, but you're undercapitalized. – consider the concerns of your stakeholders, please. (This is one of the viewpoints of the systems approach.)

Capital is sufficient, but your competition is just better than you are. – it seems that their BPM is better than your BPM! It seems they follow the laws of BPM.

The competition isn't strong, but that's mostly because the market you're aimed at doesn't exist. – see above.

Resume – BPM is mandatory but not sufficient.
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Of course it is the tactical implemenation of strategy where challenges are faced and failures will occur. Interesting that very similar stats apply to sucessful IT projects...is there a link....? Certainly contributes as one of the inevitable features of a strategy is it will change as events evolve and we all know how "IT" reacts to change?
I think as the supporting BPM begins to mature removing complexity in coding and delivering that vital Adaptive capability then the future is good for the BPM movement as important in supporting strategic objectives. As for the past yes BPM either not recognised and if so delivery too closely aligned to "old IT" with inflexibility etc and not taken seriously by business. Perhaps the real challenge is at board level as articulated in recent Computer Weekly article. The context of digital opens the door for BPM ....but delivery capability must be understood by business as strategies are formed which will support better odds for sucess.....?
  1. http://www.computerweekly.com/news/450403801/Nearly-a-quarter-of-board-level-execs-struggle-to-see-value-of-tech
I suspect at least 25% of business people in transportation didn't know why the competition was getting "on board" (no pun intended) with automobiles when Karl Benz started making production vehicles in 1886.
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I was in doubt, if naturally answering this question would look too arrogant on exclusiveness of this community. But the answer looks most simple and evident: so many businesses fail to meet their strategic goals simply because they do not use best BPM practices.

BPM is exactly an instrument for aggregation of essential business logic and metadata, which, on a higher level, appeals to the accurate establishment of the ultimate business identity and strategic goals. We believe that primary BPM role is not operational on real time process execution, which are often very well managed by narrowly specialized transactional applications. BPM appeals to strategic visionary level where it allows a company to generalize its daily process routine into a high level landscape of strategic directions and overall mission.

Technologies rise and fall, while a successful business uses and supersedes technical revolutions. This is well illustrated by companies, which exist for centuries and appeared at the age when modern computers were not even in scope of a science fiction. Corporate metadata, when properly managed and maintained, comprise essential know-how, which allows business easily step through quickly evolving and agile technical landscape. BPM is a combination of tools and practices to accumulate this higher level meta-knowledge and grow it into successful business philosophy.

I found useful timeline: The History of Business Management 1800s-Today to illustrate this post.

  1. https://www.timetoast.com/timelines/the-history-of-business-management-1890-2014

Re: "many businesses fail to meet their strategic goals simply because they do not use best BPM practices"

Agree this is necessary but not sufficient.

Most of the failure to achieve operational efficiency is sourced by a lack of BPM, but fails to achieve operational effectiveness can be attributed to a lack of ACM.

It's difficult to do a split as different organizations have different mixes of structured versus unstructured work.

For any organization that inventories "process fragments" versus "end-to-end processes", there comes a realization that objectives need to move from plan-side to run-time side.

Organizations do not fund (other than for adoption) BPM, what they fund via ROI approvals and annual operation budgets are initiatives.

One time initiatives are best managed via CPM, initiatives that advance strategic objectives -> increase of competitive advantage need BPM and ACM and it's difficult to practice either of these in the absence of some run-time environment that can host ACM/BPM, provide a parking place for objectives/assessment of progress toward objectives, enable RALB (resource allocation, leveling and balancing) and accommodate interoperability (so that your environment is not introspective).
@Karl, thank you for commenting on my remarks. Of course, BPM alone will never replace all other operational practices you mentioned. Of course, any company primarily cares on achieving its everyday tactical targets. But it is also true that every company successful for considerable time span obligatory has a strategic vision, which grows from its tactical goals. BPM in general serves to formalize and streamline these strategic goals.

BPM does not necessarily require a software. It was done simply on paper long before computers appeared. But, of course, software, especially specialized BPM software, is made to simplify these goals. In this sense, successful BPM initiative should grow on information coming from transactional systems and generalize it into strategic goals and vision, rather than to cast artificial process schemes to already existing and well-functioning business environment.

BPM alone is not sufficient for successful long term business evolution. But BPM, in one or another form, is crucial aggregation level on top of other systems to fulfill goals for strategic business planning.
Yes, re "strategic vision ... grows from its tactical goals"

And ,we can say that tactical goal setting needs to be done within the context of strategic vision\strategic initiatives

So, what works is "bottom up" and "top down" contemporaneously, although the cycle times can be quite different. i.e. more or less continuous tracking of tactics with occasional tweaking of strategy.

I suppose if things move too quickly, a corporation ends up with a blurring of strategy versus operations.

RE "BPM is a combination of tools and practices to accumulate this higher level meta-knowledge and grow it into successful business philosophy." As far as I know, BPM is already one of the several process-based management disciplines. Could you share with us your definition of BPM, please?
@Alexander, I must assure that I m not pretending to give any formal BPM definitions, especially in the form of scarce comments. There are many well written textbooks providing such generally recognized information. We are BPM practitioners and vendors and share here our subjective views based on our vision and experience.
@Boris, Thanks. Unfortunately this is one more confirmation of the 1st law of BPM.
@Boris.. BTW, great picture. I love it
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Considering that any enterprise is a socio-technical-cultural system, any of its significant transformations must use the systems approach to increase a probability for meeting strategic goals of a transformation. (My definition: The systems approach is a holistic approach to understanding a system and its discrete parts in the context of their behaviour and their relationships to one another and to their environment.)

A proper use of BPM (as a trio: discipline, tools and practices) helps a lot to bring the systems approach into an enterprise. For example, many artefacts are well-defined, the relationships between them are explicit and machine-executable, etc. As we know from the 7th law of BPM [REF1] “Done correctly BPM is 50 % of Enterprise Architecture (EA)”.

Thus, implemented correctly, BPM helps companies to meet their strategic goals. A brief list of BPM-specific aspects (which are the must for any successful use of BPM) is, actually, the 19th law of BPM [REF1].

Certainly, we are facing “A failure to adopt BPM”. Why? This may be a question for another discussion in this forum.

So, my recommendation is: “Just” do things properly (including “obeying the laws”) to get great results.

  1. http://improving-bpm-systems.blogspot.ch/2015/07/laws-of-bpm-business-process-management.html
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