Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Hard Work of Excellence

If I have one personal mandate, one overarching goal rooted deeply in a personal philosophy, it’s to make this BPM stuff manageable, understandable and accessible to the decision makers – those C-level executives – who are wrestling with how and why to take on a BPM initiative. The average executive who dares delve into the world of business process management is bound to be overwhelmed. The preponderance of professional associations, vendors, consultancies and “standards” is enough to make anyone’s head spin. The poor soul who’s charged with figuring out the best way to attack a BPM initiative in addition to their day job is in for a rude awakening; the tangle of choices is made more exasperating by having to suffer the wrath of all those in the organization who are “experts” at their own work processes and reticent to change anything. Overwhelm. Change resistance. Why bother?

There’s a simple answer: because this stuff works. The benefits are truly astonishing. The success rates, in terms of sheer ROI, have been mind-boggling. But the major reason is that some forward-looking companies are taking the time to learn, to embrace the new, to accept the inevitable change that accompanies any wholesale improvement effort and doing the hard work to achieve. The technologies are there, ready to go, out of the box. The army of consultants available, knowledgeable and able to enable truly superior process environments using modeling tools and simulation environments and process design and execution products that make far easier the job of joining disparate systems, neatly knitting them together to enable an efficient workflow, regardless of the underlying technologies. All that’s missing is an educated audience, a cadre of senior executives ready to take on the new in an effort to remain competitive. And so, friends, it’s my job, and that of my peers, to make available to those good people at the helm who toil daily to manage and motivate, to produce products and capture markets, to increase revenue and decrease costs, a facile means to accomplish just that, to remain competitive, by making this BPM thing accessible, by alleviating the stress and strain of treading through an endless sea of choices.

Faced with the seemingly unending maze of systems and their competing technologies, competing standards, competing professional organizations and competing opinions of those who promote them, the decision-making environment has become more hostile than ever. There is no clear path. There is no right answer. There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel, and there is a strong motive for taking on this challenge, for doing the hard work to remain a competitor.

“We choose to go to the moon not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard.” Those words from JFK some 45 years ago inspired perhaps the single greatest engineering feat of all time. How much more market share do we have to lose to foreign competition before we realize the call of a new generation of leaders – leaders who do the hard work because they choose to, because they have to. Not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard.

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