The Art Of Navigating Cross Currents

There are two completely contradictory currents running in the corporate zeitgeist. And I know that you know that I would say this – but surely their only resolution, the only way in which they can be effectively interwoven, is through an enterprise-wide platform for process excellence.

The strongest stream – let’s summarise it as ‘Smash the barriers to agility and innovation!’ – is represented by a sparkling piece just out Build a Change Platform, Not a Change Program in which Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini set out a manifesto that re-imagines how business transformation and continuous improvement happens.

Noting that business transformation initiatives have a dismal track record, they argue for a fundamentally different approach that is ‘activist-led’ rather than ‘top-down’; ‘organic’ rather than ‘managed’; and leverages “social technologies that make large-scale collaboration easy and effective”:

“What’s needed is a real-time, socially constructed approach to change, so that the leader’s job isn’t to design a change program but to build a change platform—one that allows anyone to initiate change, recruit confederates, suggest solutions, and launch experiments.”

I won’t rehearse it further here. It’s well-argued and, as with almost everything MIX, well worth reading. [Though Lean practitioners may groan as they read it because so much of the authors’ prescription on fostering engagement is what Lean has been saying, and often demonstrating at the gemba, for decades…]

Anyway, this heady and revolutionary tidal stream is running in almost direct conflict with a powerful current flowing from the C Suite, which we might summarise as ‘Risk management matters more than ever!’.

The new COSO risk management framework, just as an example, makes clear that all business risks at all levels need to be appropriately identified, communicated and managed – in real time. And the new SEC guidance on disclosure makes it less routine and more judgemental (ie requiring nuance and context). With reputational risks growing all the time – in CSR and supply chain, and in global tax integrity, for instance – and with the sanctions that executives face when compliance and risk management are deficient, these concerns are non-trivial.

There is a way to reconcile heart and head, to have the best of both. It’s the fundamental enabler – an enterprise-wide process management platform which is intuitive enough to support people doing real work, while at the same time rich enough with metadata and features to support effective collaboration within a robust governance framework.

The MIX is a brilliant generator of new ideas on alternative ways of managing organizations. Leaderless and activist-led organizations are useful experiments in enabling more effective collaboration in a constantly disrupted world. But there’s value too in hierarchy and structure. As Herminia Ibarra points out (in another context) in today’s FT, “Google’s famous experiment in manager-free organisation was not only shortlived, but paved the way for a talent management system designed to rely more on procedure than instinct”. Every organization needs to be constantly learning by doing.

Related Posts

08 Sep 2014   When Does A Tool Become A Platform?

24 Sep 2013   The Business Management System App

Nimbus V9 And The ROI On Engagement

nimbus-9-landing-page-banner_tcm8-18116In case you missed the trumpet fanfares: TIBCO just announced the long-awaited V9 release of Nimbus.

Personally, I’m squeamish about hype. I can LOL at the inflated claims of others. But I recoil from it myself (no moral high grounding, just a personal quirk). Anyway, I have to admit that my first instinct was to cringe on reading that V9 is a “revolutionary milestone in business process improvement”.  But, actually, on reflection, my marketing colleagues are about right.

In good teams, people are engaged. Each person feels able and empowered to contribute their ideas. Each one feels involved and confident that their input can make a difference. And, just in case you think this is getting all too luvvy, there’s an ROI here as well. Engaged people are happier. And happy teams are far more productive and creative.

So everything points to the crucial value of engagement. But nurturing it is more difficult, by an order of magnitude, in a world where so many of us are now knowledge workers, often collaborating remotely with people we’ve never met, and across complex global organizational landscapes. How do you get engagement in today’s world?

You can see the search for this modern philosopher’s stone going on all around us. It’s been a major theme in the MixFix debates on re-imagining the enterprise.

One of the keys to engagement is simplicity. People can’t or won’t engage if they don’t understand.

Neil Taylor quoted a great example recently. After six months trying to improve “operational excellence”, only one of his client’s teams had actually improved. It turned out that the team leader was holding weekly meetings that she called “Doing everyday things better”. She had made it simple – she turned corporate-speak into down-to-earth language – so her team got engaged.

Against this backdrop and these challenges, Nimbus V9 is a revolutionary milestone.

Nimbus UPN was designed from the outset to create process that is easy on the eye, to engage and support process users. Nimbus already delivered that content as a personalized ‘intelligent operations manual’ to every desktop and mobile device. Nimbus V9 now provides a completely new user interface that is significantly more intuitive.

V9 makes it even easier for people to find the right information, in the right context, at the time that they need it – and delivered in the format that works best for them. Feedback, actions and change requests are simpler too. And all without sacrificing any of the governance capabilities that underpin Nimbus as an enterprise platform for process management and continuous improvement.

Engagement matters more than ever – and simplicity is its essential foundation. V9 pushes us much further up the curve. It’s going to be fascinating to see how clients leverage this. Must stop now, need to go. Marketing colleague at the door. With a baseball bat?

Related Posts

13 Dec 2012    The Universal Business Language: Process

28 Aug 2012    The ROI On Process Visualization

© Text Michael Gammage 2013