The 'Auteur' theory of (process) design

John Gruber did a presentation at MacWorld 2009 which was called "The Auteur Theory of Design'.

His theory is that the film paradigm of having thousands of different people in a movie all working under a single man (the director) to produce a successful product should work for everything.

Listen to the presentation if you want (one comment was 'That was wildly obvious and verbose', so judge for yourself), but I'll summarise it for you here:

People who design things for a living fail because they have a lot of very talented people who produce something that is less than the sum of it's parts. But having a single person in charge with 'Final Cut' is the best way to ensure a quality well designed product.This is the reason a director such as Spielberg or Cameron was able to make his own decisions and say 'This is how it should be' and produce classic films.

Would this work with processes?
Traditionally it is the job of the process analyst to design the process (working, obviously with the users etc.) but who has the job of approving that? Gruber's theory is that the quality of output of any creative endeavor tends to approach the level of taste of the person with final cut. In the case where intelligent, informed people are deferring to someone with little or no 'taste' the final product will be of low quality. But the reverse can also happen. So in the case of process design, the sign-off is generally deferred to someone such as a process owner or a project manager. But in today's environment there are a lot of project managers who are 'professional' project managers i.e. they don't actually do anything other than manage projects. They don't have anything invested in the final outome other than making sure it comes in on time and under budget. Are they the right people to make this choice?

This leaves process owners. In "The Perfect Process Project" I make the point that there should be an end-to-end process owner responsible at a senior level for owning and managing the evolution of the process as a whole. This is the individual who should have Final Cut' on the processes. If this person does not understand the intricacies of the process then they will make a 'final cut' which will reduce the quality of the process. On the other hand if they are someone who is intelligent enough to understand that the process should be simple and well designed the resultant process should have sufficient quality to make it robust and workable.

So, two questions for you:

1) Do you have a process owner for your processes?
2) Does that process owner have Final Cut?

Reminder: 'The Perfect Process Project' is still available. Don't miss the chance to get this valuable insight into how to make business processes work for you.

Click this link and follow the instructions to get this book.

For more about me check out my "About Me' page

All information is Copyright (C) G Comerford

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