Saturday, June 09, 2007

BPM is about change - and change is about people

As a consumer, I am often amazed about the inside-out thinking of companies (not the customer is focus, but the company - and the customer has to live with it, or leave.... and most time they will...). And in addition, to the many many basically terrible processes that companies have, leading to awfull customer service, mainly caused by unawareness and lack of ownership.

The basis truth is: customers come and stay if service is good. And let's define the basis to service: it's that simple (well...) chain of all the little steps-actions-thoughts-decisions and ownership that people in your business take when trying to make a customer happy. It's the people!

As a short example: I am spending 4 months now to get rid of my Internet connection (that I cannot use even at this stage). Am struggling to order new furniture, where the company forgot to send me the requested proposol ("because person X was transfered and forgot to hand over"). So today, when I went to a shop for new contactlenzes, and everything just went fine (they even had the right data on me), I was even a bit amazed (and satisfied!). These people simply cared and had their processes in order.

As BPM specialists, I think we sometimes forget this, and focus on process too much. If we magically analyse the proces, identify gaps, issues, find the causes and remove them, processes will flow again. Sure, this is part of the needed intervention, but it's not enough: in the end, it's the people, and the chain of their actions, thoughts and ownership....

Coincidences do not exist I think. Currently I am doing two projects that are forcing me to see this fact and deal with it. And to be honest - I like it. My BPM attitude and efforts are suddenly growing to something I could call, well, group therapy.

For instance - I am currently working with an insurance company, that is struggling with a key area in their change operations: how to deal with changes, linking to their processes and IT solution. The key area I focus on currently is requirements.
I have the luxury that I can interview many people, based on a structured interview template, that covers process, concepts, stakeholders, issues and possible solutions. It's a great way to see through a group, see many viewpoints and perspectives, and identify patterns, shared images of issues, but also explicit or hidden differences in point of views (and even disputes).

First of all, I started realizing that this set of interviews is already a process intervention - by asking certain questions, people started thinking about things and became aware of their own actions and the consequences it had. They started seeing the chain (or at least part of it)!
But a key realization: for many people, playing a part in a customer chain, is like the group of blind men touching the elefant... they all assume they understand, but never see the full picture.

The next step (which I find somewhat scary) is that I will feed back the findings of all interviews to the group as a total (in a workshop), checking with them the correctness of my findings (and note - correctness is not reality - it's perception of the group). Maybe the elefant becomes more visible. I will also let them prioritize as group the biggest issues, and let them brainstorm on possible solutions + prioritize. Again an intervention (and almost group therapy) to make them realize the current state of how things are going and make them understand that THEY are in the lead to create a good, outside in, process, but more important that this process can only work if they care about it....

Maybe we should not talk about BPM, but about MPATEY - "My Process Actions That Elevate YOU (the customer). Eg.... empathy for the customer :-)
Are you focused on the people? If not, then realize: blueprint thinking on process is a nice and safe way to understand and to design, but it's only part of the solution...

1 comment:

James Taylor said...

Interesting post. People are clearly critical to any process or system at some level but often the automation makes things worse.
- People involved in the process are not empowered to act - they must ask for someone else's approval - when a smarter system would be able to support them by approving automatically.
- People are using a system where the process or decisions are out of date because they take too long to change (they lack agility).
- People involved in the process have too much data to review and not enough decision recommendations to follow and so cannot actually focus on their customers.
Automation, especially of decisions, can help with this even if it cannot (and should not) replace people completely.