I promised to say something about Tom Davenport's talk at the BPM Conference I attended this week. He was the "clean up" speaker at the end of the conference and did an excellent job of summarizing a lot of what we heard over the course of the two days.
What does "nirvana" look like for process-centered behavior? What is process nirvana?
- People know what processes they work on
- money, people, power are attached to process
- process discussion ends up in analyst reports
- there are process "silos" (and management consultant start talking about the need for functional silos :-)
- processes end up in educational systems
Davenport spent the majority of his talk working out an argument about what needs to happen to get process thinking to jump from the advocates to the boardrooms. How do you make the business leaders want process thinking? How do we teach the advocates to talk about the right things with business leaders?
Interestingly, while he also agrees that the traditional business hierarchy gets in the way of process organization, he claims that the best we can do is reinforce the matrix organization. There will always be a need for the hierarchy.
The conference was heavily technical, partially due to the nature of the topic and partially due to nature of the organizer. Technology certainly makes implementing some of the process ideas easier, but Davenport acknowledged the problems of justifying the infrastructure components that make things like Web Services and other underlying technologies work.
Davenport said in a number of ways that process thinking was much more important than any one process-centric methodology. Getting the thinking embedded onto the organization is probably one of the hardest challenges to making this happen. There are too many people and organizations that "just want to do six sigma without process thinking." Yes, that is an oxymoron, but Davenport has run across many people who say some version of that phrase.
It was nice hearing from Davenport to wrap up the conference. He's someone that a lot of people pay attention to. It will be interesting to see if his renewed interest in process gets any traction in the business community.