Scaling Up Excellence

How’s your process excellence initiative going? Frustration and confusion everywhere, pummelled by unpredictable and unpleasant events, the stench of failure in the air?  So far so good, then. That’s according to Robert Sutton and Huggy Rao, Stanford professors whose research convinces them that ‘organizations that scale well are filled with people who talk and act as if they are in the middle of a manageable mess’.

Scaling is fraught with risks and uncertainties. Even the best leaders and teams recognise that muddling through can be inevitable, sometimes for months, while searching for the best way forward. Scaling stars have grit. ‘It’s not simply a marathon. It’s like running a long race where you don’t know the right path, often what seems like the right path turns out to be the wrong one, and you don’t know how long the race will last, where or how it will end, or where the finish line is located’.

It’s refreshingly candid advice, and Scaling Up Excellence is full of it.  On a seven year journey that started with a Stanford management education program on ‘Customer-Focused Innovation’, Sutton and Rao set out to explore The Problem of More:

“Executives could always point to pockets in their organizations where people were doing a great job of uncovering and meeting customer needs. There was always some excellence – there just wasn’t enough of it. What drove them crazy, kept them up at night, and devoured their weekdays was the difficulty of spreading that excellence to more people and more places. They also emphasized that the Problem of More (which they often called “scaling” or “scaling up”) wasn’t limited to building customer-focused organizations; it was a barrier to spreading excellence of every stripe.”

Scaling Up Excellence is a thoughtful, easy-to-read and intensely practical book about successful business transformation and innovation: how to start it, lead it, nurture it and sustain it. Continue reading

Sustainable Process Excellence? Hire A Showman

iStock_000019789823SmallMichael Fauscette has been setting out why, in the information age, making better decisions will drive the development of new operating models. It’s about moving, he has argued, from “make – sell” to “sense – respond” models which can leverage smart data (right information, right context, right person, right time and in a way that enables them to make the best decision).

Most recently, he’s looked at how you translate these ideas into reality. How would a business actually go about setting up and supporting both the culture and the technology infrastructure to support a “sense – respond” model? His answers (in full here) look at people, culture, process and tools.

As an aside, his observations re-confirm that enabling effective collaboration among all those involved in the design, approval and implementation of change requires a common language (which really has to be process, for reasons outlined here) and a common governance framework (which has to be a process management platform of some kind, for reasons set out here).

This stuff was high value anyway. In a more automated and decentralized world where agility, creativity and innovation are prized, a common language and a common governance framework for managing change are going to be vital. As in survival issues in the long run.

But he talks too – and this is really my point – about the increasingly strategic value of the content manager in a world where ‘information-sharing is power’, within the enterprise at least:

“In the old industrial model knowledge was considered a power base but in today’s connected and information overloaded environment that’s not practical or productive. Sharing information is the new power base. Content curators are essential to keeping the information flowing and helping it get to the right place in the organization.”

Which fits with my experience. Too often those responsible for building and maintaining a corporate process management platform (the ‘Process Center of Excellence Team’) see themselves as archivists and librarians (ie recorders of what should happen) rather than as real-time content curators and publishers (ie architects and advocates of a better way of working).

Now it’s true that many Process Centre of Excellence teams feel forced into a passive role by the low expectations of their peers and leaders. But without ongoing and imaginative promotion of the vision, without a continuing and creative focus on enhancing the user experience, without design thinking, energy levels drop and things go slowly downhill until… all you’re left with is just another rear-view quality system.

We’ve all seen it so many times.  People focus on tools and methodologies but sustainable success in building an enterprise platform for process excellence depends equally on pzazz and subtle showmanship.

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What’s The Best Process Maturity Model?

Excuse my blatant crowdsourcing but I’m working on an evaluation of Process Excellence (PEX) Maturity Models – and need to be sure that I’ve rounded up the complete set.

This is the follow-on to my earlier post on what we mean by Process Excellence. The questions I’m asking now are:

  • How do PEX Maturity Models compare?
  • How might an organization decide which one is best?

I’m focussing on models or frameworks which purport to measure PEX from an enterprise-wide and holistic perspective.

So I’m excluding models which may cover PEX, and which some might therefore consider should be in scope, on the grounds that:

  • they are IT-centric (examples would be the ITIL and COBIT frameworks, the IVI’s IT Capability Maturity Framework, Gartner’s IT Maturity Models and Forrester’s e-Business Maturity Model)
  • they have a functional focus (such as the COSO framework, Forrester’s GRC Maturity Model, the HfS Global Business Services Maturity Model and the numerous supply chain models)
  • they are not currently intended to be enterprise-wide frameworks (which, possibly controversially, excludes the CMMI Acquisition, Development and Services Models)
  • they may be part of PEX heritage but are not used in practice today (examples would be the Business Process Maturity Model (BPMM) developed by Curtis and Weber, which formed the foundation for the OMG’s BPMM, and the University of Queensland’s Holistic BPM Maturity Model).

All of which leaves just nine wholegrain enterprise-wide PEX Maturity Models in scope:

APQC’s Business Process Management Maturity Assessment Tool (BPM MAT)

Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence

Deloitte’s Business Maturity Model

EFQM Excellence Model

Global Process Innovation’s Business Process Management Maturity Assessment Tool

Hammer and Company’s Process and Enterprise Maturity Model (PEMM)

MWD Advisors’ Business Process Management Capability Benchmark Tool

OMG’s Business Process Maturity Model v1.0 (BPMM)

Shingo Model for Operational Excellence

I think this is complete. And I’ve checked it against the University of Ghent’s Business Process Maturity Model Smart Selector (here) which is an awesome idea – and lists 60+ BPMMs.

But have I missed anyone?  Your thoughts and comments much appreciated, as ever.  The results will be reported here, hopefully later this month.

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23 Oct 2013   You Say Process Excellence, She Says Operational Excellence, I Say…

19 Sep 2013   What Process Excellence Looks Like in 2020

You Say Process Excellence, She Says Operational Excellence, I Say…

You say Process Excellence, she says Operational Excellence, I say Performance Excellence.

Are we all talking about the same thing?

It’s a question that’s been swirling around the back of my mind for a while. I’ve now attempted to answer it in a presentation which I’ve uploaded to Slideshare here.

What triggered me to finally put some effort into addressing it was the passionate response last week (by Paul Harmon of BP Trends) to those who want to change the meaning of the term ‘business architecture’.  In the world of business process management, there’s a struggle between those who argue the benefits of a discipline based on a common language and the revisionists who argue that in a fast-changing world we can’t be hostage to ‘disciplines’ and ‘bodies of knowledge’  which are no longer relevant.  [Personally, I tend towards the revisionists. In order to pass my exam and become an OMG Certified Business Process Management Professional last week, I had to answer questions on books and documents published mostly a decade ago.  At a time of rapid change, there’s a real downside to formalisation.]

Anyway, by contrast and on the same day, a Linkedin discussion How Does Your Organization Define Process Excellence? popped into my inbox. To my surprise, the 20k+ members of the PEX Network Lean and Six Sigma Continuous Improvement group seemed to lack any real consensus (almost two years after the question was first asked).

As you’ll see from the slides, I’ve compiled a selection of 33 definitions of Process, Operational And Performance Excellence. This is just a sample of the available definitions, and excludes (because life’s too short) closely related terms such as ‘Business Excellence’ and ‘Business Process Excellence’.

My own conclusions are that:

  • there is no widely-shared standard definition for each term
  • the myriad definitions for each term hugely overlap
  • process excellence and operational excellence are effectively the same thing
  • arguably performance excellence is more clearly defined, by the Malcolm Baldrige Award criteria, and slightly more extensive.

Anyway, I hope you find it useful – and I’d be very interested to get your feedback (below or direct).

Next up, I’m planning to look next at the various process maturity models, to explore a related question: what are the differences in the evaluation frameworks?  If you’d like to join me in that, I’d be pleased to hear from you.

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26 Sep 2013   Process Excellence: Is The Party Over?

19 Sep 2013   What Process Excellence Looks Like In 2020