This website covers topics on knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

Should it be ad-hoc or well-defined?

Jeffrey Phillips has some interesting thoughts on what he calls The Ad hocracy in organizations that appear to prefer doing things without well-defined processes.

Strange as it may seem, there are still many pockets of resistance to the ever growing pressure for clean, crisply defined processes in your business.  Where there were once many different methods and approaches for doing a certain task, in many cases they've been process managed into one well packaged, slick operation complete with documentation, statistical process control and metrics.

He suggests three reasons why this "ad hocracy" exists, summarized as "people don't Want it, don't think they Need it, or can't Define it."  I wonder if there is another reason embedded in these but somewhat closer to home.  People don't bother defining their processes because they can't see how it matters.  Maybe they don't believe they have an impact on the overall business.  Or they are trying to protect their "turf" by being purposefully opaque.  Or they've had a dozen other improvement efforts come through and there has been no real impact on the bottom line. 

Rather cynical, isn't it?  Here's a more generous view: they've looked at the advantages and disadvantages and decided it's not worth the effort.

Understanding processes is helpful, but it is just as important to know which processes need to be understood.  This is a common complaint of flavor-of-the-day programs: the idea is applied to everything in the hopes that it will do some good.  It makes much more sense to look at the business and find the few places to apply an improvement that will actually make a difference to the business.  Just think if you could point the improvement team to a specific work center that is limiting the ability of the business to grow.

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