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Gems on the Hard Drive

From time to time, I search through old boxes in the attic and find hidden treasures (usually old baseball cards). After decades of BPM research, my hard drive is much like my attic. There is great stuff buried on the “shelves.”

Recently, I found four worthwhile quotations hidden in an unsent email.

#1: “People in a process culture understand how the concept of an end-to-end business process provides value to clients and how their individual roles impact that value.”

― Peter Franz, Value-Driven Business Process Management

There is so much to unpack in this great quote. It captures the essence of the Third Wave of process management. It is our cross-functional processes that generate both customer value and business capability. When your culture fosters cross-functional understanding (as opposed to silos of excellence) then everyone contributes to big picture success. This is true whether your bottom line is financially driven (profit, return on assets) or mission-driven.

#2: “I believe that BPM is one of the most important activities every organization that wishes to survive must engage in. Only a monopoly could possibly survive without pursuing BPM”

― Ken Carraher, CEO (retired), iGrafx

As part of a post that distinguishes between technology-focused “little bpm” and true, holistic Business Process Management, Mr. Carraher delivers a 21st Century axiom: “Only a monopoly could possibly survive without pursuing BPM.”

While different flavors of business process improvement (e.g. TQM, Six Sigma, Lean) have waxed and waned over the years, modern BPM is the glue that holds together improvement, technology-driven innovation, customer-focused culture and sustainable strategic success.

#3: “You can’t separate processes and people. People implement processes. Processes are how work gets done: Real processes describe what people do.”

― Paul Harmon, Business Process Change

For a short while, a theory was put forth that BPM should be segregated into two streams; one for people management, the other for technology management. The latter would define and control work. Mr. Harmon sends a dagger through that theory. You cannot separate people and processes. Real processes describe what people do.

That is why the process map is such a powerful tool. It clearly defines the ‘who, how and what’ for your business process. It effectively provides a language for explaining, optimizing and enriching how your people create value for your customers.

#4: “Essential, competitive, critical knowledge is walking out the door daily, but addressing the issue isn’t a priority. The responsibility for preserving top talent expertise falls in the cracks between functions.”

― Dorothy Leonard, Critical Knowledge Transfer

Building on Harmon’s concept, this quote from a knowledge management thought leader increases the urgency of BPM. Businesses suffer “brain drain” not just from workforce mobility but from promotions, retirements and reorganizations.

If process is the language of how work gets done then mapping and managing our processes will enable us to capture and share process wisdom. No longer will the keys to process success reside only in an experienced individual’s gray matter. BPM converts critical process knowledge into a strategic asset that can be leveraged every day.

I hope you find value in these hidden gems…and find others to share.

Paul King

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