Lean Six Sigma, May I Introduce IT?

In case you missed it – I did, and just caught up with the webinar recording – Bruce Williams gave a cracking presentation earlier this week: The Great Lean Six Sigma Reboot.

His description of the mutual scepticism between IT and the Lean Six Sigma (LSS) community (summarised in his slide below) is spot on.

He may be a Pega VP but he should have been a marriage counsellor.  He has home truths for both sides. He’s persuasive in showing how they are in fact natural partners. And he makes a great case that BPM is emerging as the natural bridge between them.

It’s unbelievably visionary for most organizations of course but if IT can work at the speed of Kaizen, then the LSS community can deliver enterprise-scale sustainable improvements.

He also neatly positions the iBPMS where I think it fits best: as the real-time, dynamic enterprise platform for collaboration and orchestration, sprinkling pixie dust over the core systems of record and systems of execution.

[I have no connection with Pega Systems. It’s just a standout contribution]

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Process Excellence: Is The Party Over?

You could quite easily get gloomy reading the PEX Network survey Process Excellence: State of the Industry 2013.  Here we go again. Take down the certificate, put the books on eBay and re-write the resume. But wait. Here’s why that would be a mistake, a misreading of the underlying reality.

OK, at first sight, it is not good news. The proportion of process excellence programmes which are successful continues its decline (ongoing since 2009). Now barely half of all process excellence programmes succeed, according to the 800+ process excellence professionals surveyed.

Which is worrying, because you’d expect process excellence professionals to know what’s really going on, and to be biased in favour of reporting success.

Even more worrying, they report that 4% of programmes are ‘highly unsuccessful’, and report that 8% of organizations have ‘dismantled their process excellence programme’.

Other findings confirm a wider malaise: a decline in interest in process improvement; reported declining returns in process excellence; and reducing budgets.

You might reasonably conclude that it’s beginning to look like game over for process excellence. That it’s now downhill all the way into the history books (following in the footsteps of Six Sigma, which the survey reports is now used in just 33% of organizations – down from 71% in 2005).

The reality though is, I think, more subtle – and more hopeful. Continue reading