Monthly Archives: September 2010

If good process design simplifies work, why are most approaches so complex they detract from process’ “customer-first” mission?

Not only should good process design simplify work, it should also appeal to workers who must intuitively understand the method before they’ll embrace significant work changes that result from redesign – instead of fighting them. The Outside-In approaches – Visual Workflow, CEMM, IDEAS & Process Experience – all do the job.

So why are traditional, inside-out process design approaches complex, requiring special training to understand? And why apply them in front & back offices and service settings where knowledge workers not grasping “what’s being done to them and why” will almost automatically generate resistance to change? For the benefit of the change management industry, I guess. The growing interest in business process redesign has greatly expanded the change management community.

Of course, many approaches address these issues by deliberately not going far enough to “rock the employee boat.” But taking this tack doesn’t get companies remotely close to customer-driven process that adds significant new value to customers.

So far, the process industry as a whole seems unable to answer these questions. Which may be why interest in O-I process is growing.

Is Customer-Driven Process Cyclical―or a Lasting Change?

Is Customer-Driven Business Cyclical―or a Lasting Change?

I’ve read some comments recently on Linkedin saying, in effect, “Okay, we’ve gone through the “giving customers what they want,” phase, now it’s time to return to normal business.”

Five years from now, are customers going to be as or more empowered – and why? Or are we slipping back already towards renewed focus on realizing company profits before turning eyes towards customers – and why?

Making the wrong assumption here will wind up killing a raft of companies.  However, all the data available to support this judgment is “rear view mirror” stuff.  And  to make matters worse, most economists never get down to customer sentiment and emotion levels – despite common agreement that consumers drive 70% + of our economy. Are you ready to wrap your brain around this question and make a projection that could decide your company’s fate? Or is your C-level executive team ready to cope with this issue?

Customer-Centric Process Design is Clashing with Organizational Design: Which is more likely to “give?”

Most organizations are designed from the top down: determining the management structure first, typically using traditional silo roles; divvying up among silos responsibility for classes of activities next; then letting silos determine specific activities (processes). Things have worked this way seemingly forever.

Today, however, competitive pressures are driving more and more companies towards more customer-centered business models. And the most successful approach to implementing the change from “inside-out” (company-centric) to “outside-in” (customer-centric) has been redesigning processes around customer needs and preferences. Sounds innocuous from an O.D. standpoint, except outside-in process redesign relies on determining who best should do what activities from the customer perspective, which usually clashes with current-state organizational structures and responsibilities. Plus, implementing outside-in process requires heavy and unaccustomed collaboration among functions – and potentially placing an enterprise-wide customer advocate above the silo tops. Two more conflict points.

These clashes are only starting to occur, but will grow in number and intensity as pressures to conduct business “the customer’s way” mount. Do you think your organization, for example, or your clients’, are willing to reorganize to better support customer-driven process? Or are we about to see “irresistible force meets immovable object?”