Process Excellence Is Dead. Long Live Continuous Innovation!

Brad Power has been championing ‘continuous innovation’ as the best description of the strategic imperative facing most organizations. I’m finding that it’s a convenient shorthand for what clients are now searching for:

– a culture that combines bottom-up continuous improvement with bold, sometimes game-changing, innovation initiatives across products, channels and business models

– the capability to manage relentless change to every aspect of their operations, from daily operational tweaks through to major systems and organizational transformations, and all at pace whilst ensuring compliance and effective risk management.

Brad’s recent FCB webinar with process legend Jim Champy touched on the evolution of process thinking:

“Twenty years ago process professionals drew their inspiration from engineering. The organization was seen as a machine. Twenty years from now there will still be process professionals, but they will draw on science – especially biology – rather than engineering. The organization will be seen and managed as a living entity.”

The Gaia analogy is a good one though we will surely draw just as much on the insights of psychology, sociology and behavioural economics. It’s a human challenge above all: at the highest level, how do we enable and encourage people working in complex and dynamic organizations within a sophisticated knowledge economy to collaborate creatively and effectively, often across organizational boundaries, in ways that accelerate organizational learning?

There’s a neat example of this new thinking in the context of the UK National Health Service (NHS). Continue reading

Translating An Operating Model Into Real Work

Bringing in a Big 4 firm to create a new target operating model (TOM) has become de rigeur. But how many operating models are ever put to work? Not many. Some are just displayed reverentially on a pedestal in the C-Suite.  Most are ‘executed’ by an expensive army of consultants – but with very mixed results.

It’s a big issue. Social, mobile and cloud technologies are driving ever more rapid business model innovation and associated process change. But many organizations are locked into ‘a tragic pattern’ (as Brad Power has discussed on his HBR Blog): The CEO launches a new change program with great fanfare, only to shelve it a few years later with little to show for great expenditures of time and consulting fees.

Strategy to Reality - 1The capability to execute well must be one of the keys to breaking out of this cycle.

Why are so few grand plans well executed?  The swirling fog between the TOM vision and the operational realities, for a start. There is no line of sight between the TOM as a ppt deck and the real business.

The primary mechanism for translating strategy into reality – integrated, holistic perspectives and end-to-end processes – doesn’t exist. Instead there are a myriad process fragments, in multiple tools and formats, ‘managed’ in functional silos within a feeble governance framework.

So the exec team has a TOM roadmap, steering wheel and dashboard – but only tenuous linkages to the engine, transmission and brakes.

A process management platform provides the multi-dimensional matrix within which an operating model can be executed – reliably, efficiently and, in compliance terms, safely.

It’s the ability to execute that really matters. It’s what underlies sustainable improvement. In a complex and fast-moving world, that just can’t be done efficiently any more with ppt and email…

Related Posts

20 Jun 2012    Process: The Emerging Global Business Language

© Text Michael Gammage 2012