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Anne Stuart’s BPM in Action

Michael Dortch

Process and/or/Versus Culture: How About a Culture of Process?

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So my long-time industry colleague James Gaskin, in a profoundly impressive piece of analyst double-bagging, manages to quote both me and another industry colleague of whom I’m a big fan, Andi Mann of Enterprise Management Associates (EMA). In a recent piece for security.ITworld.com, James discusses Andi’s idea of an organizational “culture of security,? and why inculcation of such a culture would likely benefit almost any organization. Wisely, I believe, James argues vigorously that such inculcation requires leadership from senior executives.

Mere days later, in an ITworld.com piece entitled “Process Versus Culture,? James graciously quotes yours truly, and laments the dark side of the fact that culture almost always changes – and therefore must almost always be changed – from the top down. “Bad ides, like waste products, flow downhill? is a phrase with some impressive visual imagery and staying power, and a useful summary of some of James’ salient points.

He quotes, or rather paraphrases, me as saying that culture beats process every time. Actually, as it was explained to me by a senior IT decision-maker at a large financial institution years ago, at many if not most organizations, “culture eats process for lunch every day.?

I’m not trying to pick on James, but to make what I think is a critical point as clearly as possible. It doesn’t matter one whit how great your processes are on paper or its electronic equivalent. Nor does it matter how flexible, robust, and/or scalable your IT-empowered process management solution(s) is/are. If process management efforts do not make room for and/or are not informed by acknowledgement of cultural issues, those efforts will fail.

Invariably. Always. Without question. (Not that I have any strong feelings about this or anything.)

I want to thank James publicly for encouraging my behavior, at least in this specific arena. I also want to take the opportunity to refer you to my earlier musings on the subject of culture and process in this space – specifically my April 6 outing, “Success with BPM: A 'CPR' Approach.? (“CPR? in this case stands for “culture, process, results;? you’ll actually have to read the blog entry for more details.) I then encourage you strongly to take just such an approach to everything you do that’s process-related at your organization – which is just about everything, really. Do let me know how it goes…I promise you, it won’t be boring.

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Business process management and optimization -- philosophies, policies, practices, and punditry.

Anne Stuart

I am the editor of ebizQ.

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