Max Pucher – Leverage Points

At the Forrester Forum 2010: Max Pucher promises to discuss “the future of process management that is goal-oriented and focused on customer outcomes rather than a rigid flow paradigm.”  Max was a contributor to the Mastering the Unpredictable book, so I was interested in finally getting his 30 minute focus on goal orientation.  He is working on a new book called “Leverage Points”, the title of this talk.  Here are my notes:

There is a lot of talk at this conference about the nature of work, business strategy, and information technology.  This is aligned with the new book “Empowered” which is also being handed out here (I got my copy just before the talk — looks good)

His favorite Peter Drucker quote:

You can’t manage knowledge.  Knowledge is between two ears, and only between two ears.

We live with the realization that business is not going as well as we would like.  80% of CEO believe their business is excellent, but only 8% of customers.  90% businesses are unable to execute the strategy (Axon 2004).  Especially in IT.  30% of software projects are canceled.  Why is that?  Are we focusing too much on efficiency and cost? and not enough on growing knowledge?

Two key questions: Are we going the right things?  Are we doing thinks right?   Don’t just ask this once, but we need to do this each day, and continually monitor how well we are doing.

James March says we need to do both exploration and innovation every day.  Today we use ERP for administration.  BPM for repetitive processes.  But in the knowledge space supporting innovation we don’t really do a good job today.

He quoted from a new study by Forrester (dated Sept 2010) where they asked the question: “What percentage of your workers are doing a unique task within the organization?”  The results indicate that about half of an organization’s workers are knowledge workers.

What is empowerment (in reference to the new book)?  Empowerment is not really about mobile, Twitter, and YouTube.  It is much more about authority, goals and means.

The BPM methodologists often say: “a  fool with a tool, is still a fool.”  Yes, tools by themselves don’t fulfill all the need, but you still need good tools.  Cited information from the Weil & Ross book: “It Governance: How Top Performers Manage It Decision Rights for Superior Results.”  The key for achieving your business goals is in decision making.  Decision making is a high value knowledge work that focuses on achieving process goals.  Not just execution of fixed rules.  Need to focus on the high value decisions.

Leverage points are the crossovers between business and IT.  This involves decision making:  not just branches in an existing flow, but decisions about what activities to do.  For this, we need better knowledge, not just more data.

He showed a typical BPM improvement cycle – and said there is a problem with it.  Each innovation requires a full cycle.  Where is the customer?  One should get rid of the rigid cycle, and put the customer in the middle of all the activities.   Empower customer with actors, management, stake holders directly.

Even if the process is unpredictable, it must have one or more clearly defined goals.    He closed with a quote from Ilya Prigogine:

The future is uncertain…but this uncertainty is at the very heart of human creativity

An interesting talk, hard to achieve in 30 minutes.  He had just launched a new blog site worth checking into: and I hope to a small introduction to the site soon.

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4 Responses to Max Pucher – Leverage Points

  1. Pingback: Process and Business quotes of the week « Adam Deane

  2. OK and yes, there should be a defined goal for a process. But don´t we have them yet?
    e.g. calling it an invoice approval process means implicitly having an approved invoice at the end of the day, so that posting is possible, which is the goal. This process is clearly structured, although in respect to the receiver of the approval tasks and the number of approvals is somewhat dynamic.
    Or take an offer request process. At the end of the day a professional offer will be sent out answering all the requested requirements. This process is mainly semi-structured, but the goal is clear as well.
    So if you do have an structured or semi-structured process you will implicitly have the goal within the process definition.
    If you do not model a task chain like in the BPMN you obviously have do model something which is a goal and you need some rules restricting things you may could do to reach the goal.
    When I heard last year that WfMC has declared the Adaptive Case Management as the new BPM revolution and that it should solve the unpredictabel processes, which are the majority of case, I was a bit astonished that it took such a long time to find a definition for it. But I hope that we will see some more unpredictable processes supporting features in the BPMSs/WMSs in the next years.
    And let us not seperate ACM and BPM and ECM or CRM or ERP or what acrynomys are on the market yet. The SMBs are just driven crazy about it. They are looking for solutions solving single domain requirements. And these solutions should be supporting either structured processes and unpredictable ones as well without many effort in building it up.

  3. kswenson says:

    Absolutely correct that a process is designed to meet a goal. In traditional BPM, the process designer determines a set of actions that in the end achieve the goal. A model is made of the actions to be done, but for the most part the goal is left out of the diagram. I would not say that it is impossible to know the goal. I think for most people the implicit goal is pretty clear, but the process is designed as if the worker does not need to know the goal. Just keep your head down and do this task, and hand it off to the next. To the extent that the process is well designed, and the process does not need changing, then there is no real reason to have the goal explicitly part of the process.

    With a lot of knowledge work, the goal is clear, but it not clear ahead of time what the actions are going to be that will achieve that. Clearly a process designed around tasks won’t be very useful. Similarly the need to explicitly represent goals is clear.

    Imagine that you want to change the process. You need to know the goal in order to determine that this new action (that has never been done in a process before) is appropriate. Explicit representation of the goals provides a framework to clearly allow for actions to be changed and modified.

    Thus you see how the predictability of a type of work drives the way that it is represented.

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