1. Peter Schooff
  2. Sherlock Holmes
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  4. Thursday, 16 November 2017
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As Phil Gilbert said: "The only way a company sustains anything is through process. If you’re not married to the production process, you will not survive over the long haul. You won’t survive a leadership change. You won’t survive a management change. You won’t survive a budget cut time." What do you think?
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A little bit a weird question, but OK. Processes are the "things" that deliver products or services to your customers, And hopefully those products or services solve the problems of your customers. And I think that is the way to survive all other nonsense; delivering stuff that helps others to solve their problems. And yes, you will need a process to create those solutions.
Sharing my adventures in Process World via Procesje.nl
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 1
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Consider that process is explicit coordination then "The only way a company sustains anything is through explicit coordination" is perfectly correct and very true.

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  3. # 2
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What is the meaning here

1) actively engage in continuous change (i.e. we like disruption)
2) make sure, following any change, that users get on board and stay on board with the change (i.e. the change consistently generates the original desired result)?
  1. http://https//kwkeirstead.wordpress.com

Reading Phil Gilbert's article, the essence of it seems to be "If you want to make a change lasting, then you need to address process to support it" -

This answers my own question (i.e. scenario #2).

So, the Forum Question, as posed, fits the article and with the clarification provided by Mr. Gilbert, the Forum Question is not perplexing.

What it all means is that an organization having supposedly gone from one state-of-affairs to a new, better, state-of-affairs faces the prospects of:

1) the change sustaining
2) people reverting to the old ways.

Processes help sustain - of course they do because when you roll out a process the message is here is a "best practice" consistent use of which will lead to better outcomes than by following another process or no process.

What, exactly, is a "best practice"? - logically, its the practice you are using until such time as you invent a better "best practice".

This tells us that any process is better than no process.
i think you got the meaning exactly right
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 3
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I strongly agree that any Change, and specially Digital Transformation related changes start in your mind.
But the process are your muscles.
Muscles that move your organization towards your objectives. So if you need to change your organization, you mostly need to change your processes.
There's no movement without muscles ;)

This is an image I like to illustrate the concept:
CEO at Flokzu Cloud BPM Suite
No nudity on the Forum.

  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 4
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BPM is a good way to improve value creation and performance (such as efficiency, effectiveness, productivity, responsiveness, agility....). of course there are many other approaches to improve business such as leadership and competence development, knowledge management, strategy formulation, alliances and takeovers... you just name it. So the question might be why BPM would be better approach for sustainable change than any other management approach?

Here is my reasoning:

1. BPM focus to the real thing "input - action - output"... the only way to effect to the outside world is to do, act, behave, preact, react.... the inputs and outputs make this action visible and traceable. You can assess and learn from action.

2. BPM helps us to see/understand what activities and behaviors which need to be changed. If we want to improve we have to do something in different way. The only sustainable competitive edge is to improve, learn and innovate faster than our competitor.

3. Not always present in BPM (perhaps not mostly) we may start the BPM discussion by asking who is the customer, what is his process and what does he need for his process... if we do this in systematical way we build a very practical road and architecture towards growth and profit. Not all changes produce this.

The BPM does not make the change sustainable. To be successful in change we need change management. My observation has been, that most organizations when using BPM do not focus enough to the change management....leading to a lot of process descriptions no change in action.

br. Kai
have you not seen excellent change management followed by regression to the mean over the next couple years? I have :)

Seems to me BPM DOES make change sustainable. i.e. we have a process, we document as-is, we propose a new state of affairs, (to-be), change management takes place, the result is an updated process and now the task is to sustain the updated process.

Surely background BPM in a workflow /workload management platform is just about the best way to sustain the updated process?

I too, have seen many examples of regression to the mean, but never in an organization whose belief system is that consistent use of "best practices" yields better outcomes.

Hard for anyone to say that consistent use of "worst practices" could yield anything but less than desired outcomes.
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  3. # 5
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Bravo Phil Gilbert and "The only way a company sustains anything is through process". (The original article and video is well worth exploring for its exposition of the urgency of managing transformation by taking responsibility for process.)

Consider that "process" is an umbrella for all technologies ( including "tools" and "techniques" and " software" ) concerning the organization of work. And consider as well that the purpose of organization (public or private) is work, in support of some output. All work is process. Including if you zoom in on the granularity things that are "projects". So saying that a company is sustained through process is the same thing as saying "a company is sustained through the organization of work". One might say this is obvious, but the prevalence of magical thinking in government and executive suite is evidence that Mr. Gilbert's focus is wise. To take responsibility for work or process is to take responsibility for "what's inside the black box at the core of your organization". If you don't command your work, you will eventually be commanded to leave the work behind.

Interestingly, for economic reasons, most work is easily seen as actual process. That's because from an economic perspective. organizations tend to build themselves around repetitive tasks, i.e. process. My BPM.com article Why BPM Is Unique & Important: Part 3 - Link Work Of Business And BPM Software Technology explores this question.
john, this is good stuff.
  1. John Morris
  2. 2 years ago
  3. #4781
Thanks Scott. So I tweeted it even: "This time we’re not changing what we #work on, we’re changing HOW we work" w/@PhilGilbertSR - #Recipes for "continuous #disruption" - Reduce #risk of being out-transformed - https://www.bp-3.com/phil-gilbert-web-summit-creatiff … - #BPM #Process #Transformation #Outcomes #Decisioning #EdgeEmpowerment @BP3bpm
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Processes are ideas.
Some ideas are useful.
Ideas by themselves can be very powerful as ways to inspire, motivate, shape, etc... but the real challenge is how to sustain ideas!
And of course because some ideas threaten some people, they can be very fragile.
Processes are cultural, really, of course, and that’s why the ‘why’ is so important - not only in analysing but in implementing too.
  1. John Morris
  2. 2 years ago
  3. #4769
Good highlight on "processes being ideas". I'm concerned especially about the idea of "technology". A "weaponized" process is a process idea that is instantiated as an artefact of technology. This is what makes BPM technology, as the instantiation of the idea of process, so powerful.(Consider that the idea of process culture is an extension of the idea of process "in the other direction", i.e. "up" into the realm of human discourse, away from "down", which is technology.) So let's look at "down":

BPM is the technology of the work of business, because only in BPM are the concepts of work and process first-class citizens of that technology. And this is "by definition".

Interestingly, by comparison with ontology, an ontology is considered to be an "explicit specification of a conceptualization" (the famous Gruber definition). Same sort of semantics going on here. (One could say that the concepts of process when defined systematically are in fact also an ontology of process.) What we really want though are the tools to do the job. And BPM keeps getting better at it!
Processes are plans to implement ideas.
+1 for "because some ideas threaten some people, they can be very fragile".
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In accordance with Juan, I would say that processes are the operational expression of a company, hence an instrument to bring about change. However, that doesn't necessarily signify that they are the only means to initiate nor to sustain change.
Yet I do think, expressing the company's vision and MO through processes, with BPM(s), is indeed the most effective way to go about instrumentalizing concepts and bundling resources in a meaningful way.
NSI Soluciones - ABPMP PTY
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The problem with “only” is that it implies not only necessary, but also sufficient. Process (broadly defined) is a necessary component of organizational dynamics, providing (as I believe the quote suggests) the structure that sustains the soft bits against the winter winds. However, process is far from sufficient to that goal. Other things that are often useful in such situations include, inter alia: a management culture suffused with appreciation and caring; engaged employees; and lots and lots of money.
Scott's opinions only. Logo provided for identification purposes only.
I took it more as emphasis - "necessary" vs. "exclusively" - but good point.
Yeah but then I wouldn't have been able to share my revealing insight that it's good to have “lots and lots of money”.
Karl Walter Keirstead

An as-is process is typically necessary in order to engage change, an in-line updated process following change is necessary (along with other things) to sustain change.

By the time the change is complete, is it not true, going forward (i.e. sustaining the change), that the sustain part does not cost "lots and lots of money"?.

Once the organization starts to worry about sustaining, are not the upstream costs (as is, to-be, implementation) sunk costs?
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Processes are a series of joined up tasks human and machine that create a business output. To remain competitive it is essential they are flexible to support required change. Recognition and delivery of this will ensure change becomes sustainable.

The sad fact is the inflexible silo driven systems that have evolved over many decades have not encouraged change and hence the growing emergence of BPM to try and close that gap between such systems and people and bring that software support. True sustainability will be achieved with knowledge in hands of business leaders just how all this can be delivered without risk of yet another "IT" failure. Time analysts did their job and help business understand such supporting capabilities?

@David... Good points . . . .

Flexibility in the practice of BPM is necessary; run-time platforms with friendly UIs (not just good-looking, but also functionally appropriate); methods/tools that facilitate work/workload; data exchange capabilities; plus ways & means of assessing progress toward goals/objectives round out the "sufficient" badge.

Nowhere in my list do you find silos (and that includes IT) because my view is at a micro level each step along each process is a "silo" i.e work to be done by a specialized resource. We don't have floor areas with rows of cubicles as in "organizational structure silos" but each input at each task operates on the output from one or more upstream tasks.

My take on silos is that they are just places to park common resources ( a group of like-skilled individuals, a bin for parts) - tasks should be the focus and at each task the resources come out from wherever they may be, perform or assist, and then go back.

IT doesn't always deserve the "old IT" / "digital plumber" tag is often given.

IT does what it figures is right, works with the tools they have, works with the people they have, works with the software that is on the market, gets the support from management that they get.

Bottom line, all of the players need to share some of the burden here.

It's totally unacceptable to expect a computer science graduate to, overnight, take on the role of management consultant.

Absent internal BAs capable of providing some of the expertise of a management consultant who has "been there, done that", the usual selection criteria used by top management in bringing in outside consultants are
1) they have to come from a distant place.
2) their per diems have to be such that the organization becomes obsessed with a focus on getting rid of them from the moment they arrive on site.

My favorite experience on arriving at a client's site is where at the intro meeting I announced that I had prepared a list of questions.

The response was 'Never mind the questions, just give us the answers"
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 10
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Any change is a process. This process can be explicitly written as a plan for the change or exists implicitly when a change goes on without a process or plan. If change goes unplanned, it tends to disrupt without achieving a goal. To be continuous, changes must be well planned according to established process standards.

When an organization implements process management, it substantially simplifies changes inside it and makes these changes sustainable through reliable planning, governance and feedback. Processes create a management vision, which is essential for strategic planning and continuous evolution of the organization.


@Boris."When an organization implements process management . . . Processes create a management vision"

My experience over 40 years in consulting is most "business" corporate strategy development occurs top-down i.e. Resource-Based-View -> initiatives (markets and customers) -> budget allocations/ROI Authorizations -> Cases -> Processes.

However, in the area of engineering, especially highly automated continuous production (paper, cement, steel), processes do, indeed, precede strategy i.e. invent a process -> take out a patent -> build a strategy for scale up and marketing/sales/distribution/support.
@Karl, thank you. I suppose that in practice it is a convergence in iterations with both top-down and down-top initiatives. I suppose that processes well formalize de-facto situation and directions of development, although the actual change can go without such formalization too in a less organized fashion.
Karl Walter Keirstead
@Boris. . . . Agree that it can be top down/bottom up but what is perplexing is the usual gap that exists between top management and operations.

It's not asking too much to expect top management to say what they want /need and for operations to tell top management how they will spend hard-earned-money to satisfy those wants/needs.

Clearly, management by objectives is what both groups need to focus on but both seem, for some reason, to have difficulty communicating - they use different methodologies, they use different buzzwords, they have different attention time spans.
@Karl, one of the key benefits of process approach is very efficient reduction of information into more compact and imaginable form. Management always exists in a situation of information explosion. Gap appears NOT due to poor qualification or ignorance of management but because amount of information just exceeds natural cognitive capabilities of humans. BPM serves here as a powerful convolution tool decreasing silos and chaos of operational data into a manageable structure.
@Boris, Agree with "amount of information just exceeds natural cognitive capabilities of humans"

Agree also that management is not ignorant - they may, however, be busy, they may resist change, both of which could account for inaction.

Going back to the origins of flowgraphs, decision trees, CPM, BPM, . . . . all of these are, on a relative scale, "very difficult" to build compared to making Internet postings (just post) and do the threading together at runtime by way of searches.

The problem is unless you have "visual" software you only get a linear list of search results.

You can see the "hits' but you cannot within your domain of interest (i.e. a corporation in the context we are discussing here) get to see across all of your entities (land, plant, equipment, tools, staff, customers, suppliers, . . . ) where there are no "hits".

I have a customer who has just put together a 3D worldwide Kbase on Autism (all care centers, all research centers, all research grants, all researchers, all research publications, all authors, all advocacy groups, all best practices) - more than 10,000 nodes across all of the entities.

They want to be able, for example, to see who has a grant for "new_theory_best_practice_xxx", what publications they have done in the past, what centers they are working in, papers published last this month, etc.

See other examples

e.g. all orbiting satellites (about 7,000 of these) featuring countries, years, type of vehicle, launch pad, rocket used


Bottom line, there are ways and means of getting the "big picture" to address the important problem you cite hereabove i.e. "amount of information just exceeds natural cognitive capabilities of humans"

Notice in the Autism Kbase example, the presence of "all best practices" - whereas most Kbase structures end up comprising a few thousand multi-root trees with no set linking across the trees, nothing wrong within one tree to have data with express linkages between the nodes - you cannot compile the linked representations to a process template but you can look at the flowgraph.

I don't believe that BPM can compete favorably with 3D Kbases in the area of strategy building/representation.

It is, however, the weapon of choice for representing and managing operational flows.
  1. John Morris
  2. 2 years ago
  3. #4801
@Boris, @Walter (a.k.a."@Karl"): Your dialogue is powerful: starting with "processes create a management vision" [@Boris] (an entire career could be built on realizing this vision), countered [@Walter] such that most strategy and planning is top-down and "resource-constrained". But business needs a model, specifically business process, because the "amount of business information characteristic of any enterprise exceeds the natural cognitive capacity of humans" (slightly edited) [@Boris]. @Walter lastly notes the difference between knowledgebases (static models perhaps?) and dynamic models (e.g. process and operations oriented) of the enterprise. These are theoretical questions and not likely No. 1 on executive reading lists. Nuclear physics of course was theoretical, until it was made practical. The failure rate of F1000 organizations is high enough to sugest that management may not always know what it's doing. And that the questions raised by @Boris and @Walter can be worth grappling with.
@Karl, thank you. I ve read your points with much enjoyment and attention. In a sense of graph databases, nearly every process or organizational structure is a graph, which makes BPM technically an area of graph building and exploration. In this way, your above concepts and procedures closely resemble process mining. To attribute them to BPM or not is mere an question of taste.
@John, thank you for getting into the thread. As an extra remark on your notes above, managers themselves might be a product of process approach in a company (or of its absence). In this sense, BPM may well shape not only organization but people. Impact is mutual.
  1. John Morris
  2. 2 years ago
  3. #4808
@Boris (and Happy Thanksgiving for everyone in America), your comment concerning how "process shapes management" or "process shapes people", opens up an entire world of analytical possibility.

Consider the world of rhetoric, or more recently narrative and discourse. All these things more or less refer to linguistic systems. And as soon as we say "system", we can apply the tools of systems analysis.

Add to the idea of instantiated linguistic systems the connection to "work". This means that what we say "at work" is almost certainly "about work".

None of this is novel -- I could be accused of stating the obvious, as in "at work we talk of work" (except when we are talking of MLS football).

There's all sorts of experience and research concerning this topic. For example, if we call a linguistic system "culture", we can invoke Peter Drucker's famous claim such that "culture eats strategy for breakfast".

So where does BPM technology come in here? I suggest that BPM technology enables a much more specific and concrete management discourse concerning organizational production. BPM technology makes it possible to move some of the "tacit" into the realm of the "explicit".

From a systems theoretic view, if an organization is emergent, and operational managers at least somewhat plug-and-play, then the management discourse which is the world inside of which these managers live and work, is a product of the organizational system.

And more compellingly so when the organizational system is made explicit by BPM technology.

OK, I'm sure this can be summarized more succinctly! I wanted to see if one could define specifically the claim above that "BPM could shape people". If this claim is explicit, then its components can be tested and/or acted upon.
@John, very essential observation. Every BPM model definitely has a linguistic form in addition to its formal and graphical representations. Moreover, exactly linguistic content of the model is consumed by majority of workers. Linguistic view of the model is often inappropriately neglected, which might cause unexpected failures in implementation of otherwise perfect models. Crucial role here plays complete and precise translation of model formalism into consistent linguistic system. Through its linguistic translations BPM reveals into verbal communication of workflows and shapes organization culture.
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