What Does Your Organizational Weave Look Like?

Firms are often challenged to undertake transformation at a grand scale — to sustain and scale BPM programs across the organization. All firms are at subtly different levels of maturity, with different histories, unique cultures — and while there are many commonalities, every organization needs to approach the BPM and transformation agenda in subtly different ways.

Enterprisewide transformation involves a large number of people doing some pretty special things. The reality is that each organization will need its own subtle blend of skills, methods, techniques and tools. In a sense, the organization needs to weave its own proprietary method framework — to create its own fabric — a unique approach that reflects its special needs, the maturity of the different business units, the history of change, culture, and political challenges.

There will be people inside the organization that need to own that framework and set of methods, monitor its efficacy, and improve it over time. And while external resources can complement those employees, the executives at the helm should understand that they cannot abrogate responsibility for change. Too often, I hear the transformational objective stated and then followed by something like " . . . and we are looking for an outsource provider to do it all for us.” That sort of attitude is likely to end up in a courtroom (as things go sour down the line).
Coming back to the weave — populating that framework is always a challenge (since you only know what you know you know). What methods, techniques, and approaches does your organization need? For the organization to answer those questions effectively, it needs to understand the likely challenges it will encounter and assess the skills and capabilities required to overcome them.

Since joining Forrester, I have been focusing on our BP Council — now standing at about 30 members and growing steadily. It has been a pretty busy time (hence not blogging as much as others on the team). I find myself advising a wide range of clients, helping them understand where they are on their own journeys and to grow capabilities relevant to their special needs.

Some are at the beginning of their journey, looking for assistance on selecting the right process modeling tools or justifying the overall BPM initiative. On the other hand, some are already engaged in driving organizationwide transformational initiatives, helping the various business units on delivering great customer experiences to their customers. It's also interesting to see that while a few more mature organizations may be new to BPM, they have so many other organizational capabilities and sophisticated cultural norms that adapting their business approach to include the digitization of processes presents far fewer challenges than they realize.

Regardless of where they are on that journey, they are all looking for additional improvement tools and techniques that will help them achieve the next level in breakthrough performance. They are looking to learn from their peers or others that are going down this same road. In the BP Council, we explore the journey together and learn from each other.

The real challenges are not technical - they are human. To quote the CIO of the CIA, “All problems are people problems.” (He keynoted at a conference I attended in 2008.) At the level of the Change Agent (our persona for the most senior person in the organization with responsibility for process improvement), technology is not the issue, it's how to sustain and scale the initiative. It is changing the mindset of colleagues that have “outsourced” their problems to IT for longer than anyone can remember. It is building true engagement at the executive level (rather than lip service) such that they (the execs) visibly lead the initiative, driving it through the middle management. It is building and structuring the initiative such that the organization really does engage its frontline employees in “Imagineering” the service that the customer really needs.

These are the sorts of things we are discussing in Washington, DC, this coming week at both the BP Council and the BP Forum.

Comments

The Weave...

Hi Derek - an interesting article.

I quite like the terminology you used "The Weave". It helps to visualize an organization starting to change - the weave may evolve as it picks up momentum.

Picking up on the CIO of the CIA's comment that "all problems are people problems", do you think that in time of organizational change that there is NOTHING as important as a common language used across the enterprise to help everyone work towards common goals?

Language at the core

During the BP Forum, I did a session with my colleague Alex Peters around the need for an appropriate language for BPM. At the core of my piece was how the different (sub) roles within an organizational change program all use different techniques and methods, which should be united by a common language.

Moreover, this language evolves as the overall maturity of the organization improves.

On the other hand, IMNSHO, those driving the change programs seldom give this aspect enough attention at the outset.

Language at the Core

Derek,

I don't suppose any of that session is online? If it is & you have a link to it i'd be grateful.

I work for Knowledge Genes. We've created a code of knowledge using a what/how/why structure & we believe it makes for the perfect language for knowledge exchange ~ crucial for organizational change. We think it could be that 'common language'.

I'd love to discuss it with you further - expert feedback is always welcome. If so, just pop me an email.

Forrester Teleconferences Available online

You may find this useful ... but the element of talking to the issues of language is not perhaps as explicit as you might want.

Best Practices For BPM Project And Program Success

But you will need to have appropriate access (i.e. Forrester client).