A guide to systematic business process improvement

Why is it that organizations invest significant effort in implementing methodologies, modifying processes or initiating and executing projects without fulfilling their desired purpose?

This is a question that Angelo Baratta analyzes in great detail in his book, More Perfect by Design – The Science of Designing More Perfect Business Processes.  Angelo and I served for many years on the board of the PMI Lakeshore Chapter, and helping organizations through improved approaches to process design has been a passion of his for as long as I have known him.

The book tackles many of the challenges that organizations face including:

  • The tendency for functional units to focus on fixing local (to their area) “low hanging fruit” issues that then might result in new problems occurring in other areas or with no net improvement from an organization level.
  • The practice of frequently switching methodologies or redoing processes without quantitatively assessing whether progress is being made
  • The difficulty in logically moving from purpose to objectives to strategy and all the way down to changes to functional processes

Angelo dissects the problems at length, and presents a systematic approach to address them.

The book does not focus on formulating purpose, objectives or strategy.  But by presenting the concept of a Valueflow which bridges the gap between strategy and functional processes as well as the constructs of Value and Capability Chart of Accounts to objectively understand the current state and desired end state,  the reader begins to learn how a cross-functional value-focused approach to process design can succeed where “gut feel” based functional process engineering exercises have not.

One of the concepts that struck a chord as the Master Valueflow Map which presents the need to look beyond just managing customer value (which tends to be the focus of most organizations and their improvement initiatives) to considering the need to manage shift (looking forward and setting direction) and manage drift (keeping us on course).

This book is not light reading hence Angelo provides guidance in his introduction on how best to digest the knowledge.  While there are some examples (and humor) injected to lighten the material, the book would benefit from a companion guide containing multiple case studies to illustrate the practical application of the principles.  Of course, this book was derived from Angelo’s research and professional consulting, so it is quite understandable that he might not want to make it too easy to apply his methods!

Having spent much of my career to date witnessing organizations struggle trying to improve their PPM and PM capabilities, this book has presented a number of insights that increased my understanding of this situation.  As such, I’d recommend this book to anyone that is involved in sponsoring, formulating or executing change within their organizations.

Categories: Facilitating Organization Change, Process Peeves | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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