Alec Sharp at IRM BPM Europe – Soft stuff is the hard stuff

Alec Sharp giving his speech
at IRM BPM Europe

One of the highlight of the BPM Europe event (especially for the BPM hardcore people, at least 🙂 has been the speech given by Alec Sharp on June 9th.

The main point of the discussion is again that the human issues are the key for effective business process re-organization.And Organization Development (OD) is a perfect discipline that can complement the BPM initiatives.

First message: obviously, BPR might be designed as a process itself. And as such, it crosses several enterprise divisions. To grant success, BPM projects must get alliances among different actors, including BPM analysts, and even more Organization Development consultants.

Second message: what is OD really? Possible definitions span 40 years of practices, but the common bottomline is: reshaping  behaviour and structure for improving enterprise process effectiveness.
There are a lot of commonalities with BPM practices. However, people in the two fields seldom collaborate.
This is quite unfortunate, considering the explicit dependency we have:
Enterprise culture, behaviours, core competencies and management style put strong constraints to business process, and also not accidentally the enacted business processes can impact the enterprise culture in a deep way.

Third message: this is not just an abstract statement. Concretely this applies to every tools used for enacting the processes.
For instance, measures and incentives that locally aim at optimizing the performances of single actors may lead to huge inefficiencies at the overall process level. Just imagine the typical sales incentives: this tends to lead to orders very unevenly spread along the year, which in turn make it difficult (and less efficient) for other functions (production, shipping) to reach their goals.

Fourth message: the differentiators.
The core question is: what differentiates you from the other providers of the same products/services? One should be careful when deciding. For instance, if you aim at operational excellence: this actually means you are more efficient but less flexible.
In general, it’s difficult (impossible?) to excel in more than one vertexes of the triangle: operational excellence, product leadership, or customer intimacy. You need to set your trade off point among the three.

All this may end up in huge conflicts and distress of people, if OD perspective is not considered.
Once one direction is chosen, people need to be involved and motivated. Otherwise, they might work on another direction and finally get frustrated / betrayed once they get to know the actual direction the company is moving towards.

Fifth message: hitting the belief wall.
It’s always the case that a set of beliefs / value statements within the enterprise can stop the growth of the company. To go beyond this, you need to change people’s beliefs!

So here it comes my question. Can Social BPM  help in these issues? Your opinion is greatly appreciated.
(and if you are not sure what I mean with Social BPM, you may have a look at this)

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