BPM and Golf part 2

A golf ball directly before the holeImage via Wikipedia

I while back I wrote a piece that equated golf with BPM (more particularly how identifying a weakness in your golf game and attacking it can reap dividends to your final score) well today I want to give you another golf story. This one is a little closer to home.

Both my parents play golf. They started as they approached retirement age and are now very enthusiastic players (My mother is even on the committee at the local golf club). But here's the thing. Even though they are both of an equal level of experience - having started playing around the same time - my father tends to get more out of his golf game than my mother. By that I mean that he hits better shots, places the ball better and has a better mental attitude to the game. Don't get me wrong, my mother has a fundamentally sound game. She hits the ball well, is always accurate with her shots and tends to know her limitations when trying shots across, say, water or other hazards. But the one area she is admittedly very weak in is putting. In a typical round she will average 3 putts per hole. Over 18 holes this adds up to a lot of extra strokes. These extra strokes start to annoy my mother over time. So in order to solve this problem she will.... buy another club to give her more distance off the tee. Or buy a fairway wood that she can use to strike the ball cleanly off the short stuff. Despite my many attempts she cannot see the benefit of taking some time to be taught the fundamentals of putting so that she can practice and reduce the shots she plays in a round. If she could reduce her putts by an average of one per hole she will have instantly knocked 18 shots off her score - a feat that very, very few players have managed to do without a great deal of effort. But I believe my mother could do this easily with the right approach.

However mother doesn't subscribe to this point of view. She thinks that she can't putt any better than she does because "She's tried already", and that spending the money on lessons would be a waste - especially when there are shiny new clubs beckoning her with the promise of 'an extra 20 yards off the tee'.

So how does this relate to BPM? (You knew if you read on long enough it would get back to that didn't you?) Fundamentally I believe that what my mother is doing is exhibiting the same tendencies a number of companies are doing when it comes to process improvement. They believe that getting the tools in to do the job is a substitute for knowing and understanding the fundamentals of the discipline. Vendors (and research companies alike) have been so successful in positioning products and services that companies lose site of the fact that the best product in the world will not help you if you don't use it right - or even worse - if you don't know how to use it at all.

Anecdotally I have heard of any number of organisations who have gone encountered a problem, identified it as 'BPM' related and the instantly gone out and purchased a BPM(S) tool to help them. Want to bet that this solved their problem? I guess you know that it didn't. They have missed the fundamental point that a tool is just a tool. It can't do everything for you. In the same way that a box of tools will not build a house by itself, a BPM solution will not streamline your processes by itself. The more insidious issue here is when you've purchased a 'tool' to help you but it's not the right tool. This will effect your approach to problem solving. Remember 'when all you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail'

Don't misinterpret this article as being a rail against BPM vendors. It isn't. What I am trying to highlight is the growing problem of companies using BPM solutions as panaceas to solve problems they were not designed to. Or more importantly substituting solutions for knowledge and trying to 'do BPM' without building the BPM capability. Just like my mother with her putting, getting a shiny new golf club won't help her learn to putt anymore than buying a flashy new BPM system will teach you how to manage your processes better.

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