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A BPM Doomsday Clock

by David McCoy  |  March 24, 2011  |  Submit a Comment

I like visual metaphors, so imagine this one. You have three actors:

  1. “The Man” or “The Woman.” Those management types.
  2. “The Workers.” Those wage slaves
  3. “The Process People.” Those gurus who claim to make life better.

What if each actor had a big wall clock? What if each clocks was labeled with a “tag” (e.g., “The Man”) and hung on the wall for everyone to see? What if all the clocks were side by side?

image   image   image  

Yawn… Three clocks, all showing the same time. Boring.

Well, these aren’t regular clocks. These are clocks that mimic the famous Doomsday Clock, counting down the minutes to nuclear annihilation (midnight). Only these clocks count down the “minutes before process collapse.”

Minutes before process collapse – a snarky McCoy-ism that one uses to describe how close to a total failure your particular business process is at any given time. It’s subjective. It’s relative. It’s not good to be close to midnight.

Now, what if each of the actors could set his or her clock, based on the collective perception of his or her cadre (e.g., management, worker, process people)? What time would each clock show? Would management set their clock a safe 56 minutes from midnight? Would “The workers” set theirs at 11:57? Would “The Process People” take their clock down and replace it with a poster of BPMN 2.0 symbols and an IOU for “One new process”?

What kind of message would the three clocks give off? Harmonious understanding of process problems? Blind optimism? Raging pessimism? Complete disregard for reality?

If you take me up on this – and you should – send me (david dot mccoy at gartner dot com) a picture of the three clocks and your written permission to post it. Don’t include any identifying information (company, stock symbol, your face, etc.) If your process is teetering on the brink of collapse, I don’t think your management will want that shared. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at where their clock is set. You might have to move a BPMN 2.0 poster (or a “Workers Unite” poster) to see it.

Category: business-process-management-bpm  

David W. McCoy
Managing VPt
19 years at Gartner
33 years IT industry

David McCoy manages the analysts on the IT Procurement and Asset Management team. David started Gartner's BPM research and is credited with defining the market that emerged ...Read Full Bio

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