Why people aren’t as flexible as process and why we need to help them be

Ian (Gotts) wrote an excellent post on Redux about monkeys, possibly one of the best corporate analogies I’ve read in a long while. But it makes a valid point. It is very easy to almost “indoctrinate” behaviour in people to the point they no longer question it but equally very hard to snap them out of it. BPM promises change at a fast pace, sometimes that pace can be aggressive because the Exec matra is often “ROI now!” and they expect it yesterday. And there appears to be a bit of a gap here because of it. BPM projects succeed because the people have been involved right from the start and change is introduced to them and they’re educated and taken through the journey from start to finish.

More often than not however change is used as a blunt instrument wielded by slap-happy management in the hope the numbers will stack up with the spend. This boils down to the maturity of understanding in the organisation of what BPM is about. Poorly executed programmes have little to no real understanding as to the “why are we doing this?” and “what are the benefits?”. I’ve come across one recently where the badge of “process champion” is handed out almost wholesale but there are no real responsibilities or understanding of what it means to ‘champion process change’, only that it’s the ‘done thing’ in a BPM programme.

So it’s almost as if the monkey analogy has started to creep into the BPM cycle itself, hindered and compounded by the lack of education for those who really need it. So whilst we’re scrabbling around to decide what Social BPM actually looks like let’s not forget about those who are still trying to figure out how to get on the first rung of the BPM ladder and perhaps focus some energy in helping them become as flexible as we keep promising they’ll be.


3 responses to “Why people aren’t as flexible as process and why we need to help them be

  1. Agreed. But all too often the client doesn’t want the help. He/she just wants a quick tactical fix and can indeed be very resistant to help. A good example is say a Quality Manager new to the job. His sole aim might be to make a quick impact by say creating a QMS without any desire to think further. The result might be that the QMS sits to one side of the core operating processes and gradually falls into disuse, so whilst the impact may be reasonable in the short term, the longer term effectiveness improvement might be minimal. The answer to "why are we doing this?" is not the same as "why should we be doing this"? That’s the real question that needs to be asked and where the energy should be focused.

  2. Good thoughts Theo. This is where change intertwines with leadership. True leaders are able to influence behavior of others because they can explain the "why" and the "what" of a situation. People and systems do become like monkeys because its easy to keep following the same process. It takes energy to think about the "why" and "what".Bob Williams

  3. Pingback: Social BPM and Social Enterprise Transformation roundup #socialbpm #bpm #socialenterprise | BPM redux·

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