Sunday, October 6, 2013

Process Re-design, Challenge #02

Always an art, never a science?

Art and science have their meeting point in method.
~Robert Bulwer-Lytton

What makes BPM different than scientific management approaches (like project management, six sigma etc)?

1. There is no global optimum
There is no best way to execute a process, it all depends on availability of resources (time, money, talent) for execution. It is an illusion to think that one may ever reach a global optimum in any process.

2. BPM is a continuous deployment framework
There is no best time to improve / change / upgrade a process. Or rather, the best time to do that is "as soon as possible". A business process must be agile, i.e. must be able to adapt to new conditions (shift in strategy, legislative changes etc). Therefore on-the-go tweaking should be part of the process design philosophy.

Hey, this sounds a lot like the lean start-up philosophy!
1/ start small with a minimum viable process and with a few process metrics that matter,
2/ continuously test your model's falsifiable hypotheses along the way until you get it right and avoid local optima,
3/ tweak it on-the-go based on the learnings above.

Actually, there are at least two major differences:

1. Approach on customer problem
A lean start-up defines how a new product solves an existing / emerging customer problem.
A business process redefines how an existing organization addresses entire classes of existing problems (effectiveness, efficiency, segregation of duties, activity cost, information distribution, asset / function redundancy etc).

2. Build-Measure-Learn cycle
A lean start-up iterates the product. One product iteration may be deployed almost instantaneously. Customer reaction can measured reliably in direct relation with that specific iteration.
A business process iteration manages the change to the process (employee education, transition, organizational feedback, integration into an existing business model). Therefore, a business process iteration needs a significant soak period before it starts to perform as intended.

So... how do we reconcile this?...

More to come :-)