The father of process is not happy!

Dr Geary Rummler (who died on October 2008) did an interview with The Gartner Group prior to his death. In it he discusses a wide a varied range of topics, all related to process and his role in it. Check out the interview here:

I was particularly taken by one of the first things he said in connection to a question about the impact of process management, process improvement, and process re-engineering:
Well, I'm "underwhelmed" by the impact that the field has had. The field – I think – is broader than process improvement. I believe "process" can have both strategic and tactical impact. Most of the work to date – going on for 15 to 20 years – has been about process improvement, which I think of as tactical.

He also has some interesting things to say about BPM:

When you go to various BPM conferences BPM appears to mean the latest software thing. And if you walk down the vendor aisle at these conferences, by the time you reached the end you'd be convinced that BPM is all about technology.

This was in response to a question clarifying the meaning of 'BPM'. Dr Rummler describes BPM as :
"So, we're in agreement that what's necessary is a sound underlying methodology for looking at, understanding, and managing processes. And that there is a process improvement and management methodology that is distinct and separate from technology. And that the methodology might cause you to apply technology as part of what you're doing, but it's not all about technology"

He also talks in some depth about the different levels of process definition which is something I have been struggling with. Basically according to his thoughts (See this diagram) there are several levels at which we can define processes but the key is to use the value chain hierarchy (levels 2 and 3) to map the process change back to something that is meaningful to the business and the customer. If you can't do that you are not adding the right level of value to your organisation. He then goes on to say:
"Consistently working on a Level 5 subprocess, buried in a function, disconnected from the business goals at Level 2 might be interesting and get you a high score in your process-maturity rating, but it sure looks to me like a waste of time and money. And it is the kind of waste of resources that causes senior management to wonder if this process stuff is getting them the payoff they were led to expect."
In closing he made the following remark, which I think is critical in the current environment
It is very difficult (and dangerous) to sell BPM on features alone. And I'm betting that the majority of those CIOs who say BPM is their No. 1 initiative are going about the task without understanding and communicating the benefits of BPM to their clients. More BPM disappointments in the making
Take heed from the man who invented the discipline. He's not happy with what's happening and he's here to tell you why!

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