Think about your last BPM implementation – was it merely paving the cow path, or did it include a radical redesign from how things are done today? I talk with vendors, companies, government entities and read lots of case studies. While the results are often impressive, I often feel underwhelmed. Where are the nuggets of radical redesign or breakthrough thinking in the solution? It seems much of the benefit was achieved through automation of manual effort.
My first immersion into enterprise-wide process improvement was at Levi’s in the 90’s. I attended one of the first course’s taught by Dr. Michael Hammer and poured over his book “Reeingineering the Corporation.” His messages resonated with “blow it up” and “start with a blank sheet of paper.” We spent time visiting other companies, gaining insights from customers and creating a vision for how we could work in the future. Then we did the heavy lifting of figuring how to get from here to there.
Unfortunately this style of work became associated with downsizing. It also suffered from trying to take on too much all at once (changing everything) and ignoring the impacts to people in the organization (change management). But most unfortunately, we also lost the essential message – to think differently, to challenge the status quo – to strive for something completely different. We need to bring this back – soon!
A friend (an enlightened BPM sage) said to me a few days ago, “the only place automation should come before discovery is in the dictionary.” So true! We have taken a detour down the BPM tinkering path – with benefits of increasing productivity and delivering an ROI predominantly achieved by automating manual processes.
They are certainly great examples of breakthrough thinking – my favorite is BAA and the rethinking of airport capacity/gate handling to increase retail sales, using Pegasystems. These seem to be the exception lost is a sea of workflow projects. At some point we will exhaust these incremental opportunities – let’s keep BPM at the forefront and top of business executives minds – let’s continue to reinvent, rethink and radically redesign.
Send me your radical redesign successes.
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