The BPM Delusion Continues …
I just read an invitation to ‘the most comprehensive, current and pragmatic BPM seminar in the world’. The host is claimed to be the most experienced and highly-rated seminar facilitator and author in the enterprise BPM field, who supposedly ‘developed more agile process-based business architectures and process models that will scale and adapt’ than anyone else. I won’t use a name but you can basically enter any BPM expert you want. They are all the same.
This wonders of BPM seminar should be attended by:
• Strategic Planners
• Business Process Executives, Stewards, Owners and Managers
• Business and Systems Architects, Analysts and Designers
• Business Executives and Managers
• Lean and Six Sigma leaders
• IT Leaders
• Program and Project Managers
• BPM Internal and External Consultants
• Change Agents who must influence cultural and behavioral transformation
• HR Professionals introducing new competencies and organization designs
Well, except for the executives and managers these people are not performing ANY work that produces ANY business revenue. They are all bureaucrats! There are now ten different people who will tell the ONE poor grunt sitting in the customer frontline how to do his job and once they come out of this seminar they will be brainwashed to believe that it will actually improve the way a business works.
The brainwashing starts with a certain amount of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). The invitation points to economic pressures and change and an increasing burden of compliance that are the norm for any business. So what? Well, it says, ‘managers who solve problems on the spot employ short-term thinking and create imperfect patchwork solutions.’ It claims that ‘only those with lean and reliable end-to-end processes will be able to do more with the scarce resources they already have’. Says who? Proves what? The worst short-term thinking perform c-level execs who look at quarterly results only to drive the share price up!
Then it says that ‘process management obviously needs to be aligned across the whole organization’. Does that not remind you of centrally planned communism? In any case they are telling you that you can’t manage your business and you can’t trust your managers and your people are idiots. They tell you that you do not need managers with initiative, experience, people management skills and who act decisive and intuitive. Nope, all wrong! You need bureaucrats who will put the business on track. Right. Exactly!
The invitation further proposes that the business does not need to know how to make a customer happy but ‘business managers, architects and analysts must be able to strategize, architect, define, understand, analyze, improve, and communicate knowledge about business processes for multiple purposes’. What are those purposes? The seminar will supposedly teach you how to manage the politics so that there won’t be any resistance. Basically it says right here two things: The people will hate it, so you need to enforce it and you do that by policing each and every step of the newly defined work processes by exploiting technology to the max! The Brave New World of 1984 is finally here.
It further says clearly that not people are the asset of the business but the processes are! Then there is a lot of mumbo-jumbo about scalable methods, models, best practices (a.k.a. copycat ideas) that can supposedly ‘be applied to whole enterprises’. Clearly that BPM expert has never tried that! Then the rest of the invitation is sprinkled with buzzwords about SOA-enabled, process-centric and model-driven, breakthrough BPM technologies! Who believes this crap?
And what will you be able to do with all that new knowledge? Supposedly you will ‘anticipate and respond to changing needs more quickly and deliver better performance faster’. It strikes me as strange that all this new bureaucracy will speed up change. Who will anticipate something? One of the ten BPM-Lean-SixSigma-ChangeAgent bureaucrats who are disconnected from daily operations? They think that the business clerks who are now paternally spoon-fed with process steps like idiots and who hate their BPM guts for taking away their initiative and customer orientation will tell them? That is the true DELUSION. This style of BPM motivation blatantly ignores the most basic, but most important concepts of human resource management.
Finally the course invitation puts the cards on the table by saying: ‘Get all people to change with less hassle’. Aha, the BPM pundits think that they can run the business by remote control. That is what they are selling. No manager in his right mind will believe that this is possible. Corporation-wide BPM is as bad as Outsourcing. It is proof of incompetence. It shows a focus on cost when there should be a focus on people – employees and customers!
My BPM bickering is often misinterpreted as being against process management. Well, the opposite is the case! But process management is about aligning people towards a common goal. That does not happen by nailing down every work step. A service business is not a manufacturing plant. Each customer is an individual and so is each employee. The quality is improved by better communication and monitoring, which is different to policing and enforcement! Employees are responsible for their own work and the quality they produce. Process management must help them to shape the processes how they need them. Managers and process management are ENABLERS. The huge change management overhead introduced by BPM with all its tools, staff, centers of excellence and global process models will drag your agility down. Only when the bureaucracy is cut out and the change loop is short – which means WITHIN the process team – then a business can become agile.
I was told that there are not enough great employees so BPM it is necessary to improve quality. I absolutely do not agree, there are no bad people. They just can be in the wrong place and/or poorly managed. Well, guys – if your management gets BPM to help you, you know what they think of you. Finally, I was told that enterprise wide BPM and a great, motivated staff and street-wise first-line management are not mutually exclusive. Well, that is a dramatic delusion as well. You can only have one or the other. Great people go where they are needed and appreciated. So make your choice!