The illusion of Process Modeling

The way we model process from the organizations perspective is a big part of the problem
If you think of the world as a production line you may be trapped by the conventions of industrial age thinking and practice. Most process and business models represent the flow of work and information NOT the actual customer experience. Worse than the model we then automate it. This Inside-out perspective explains the demise of so many previously successful 20thcentury organizations  – Kodak, Nokia, Blockbuster, Blackberry to name just four. What used to work failed them as the customer became promiscuous, choosey, rebellious and ultimately the decision maker as to whether a business succeeds or not by simply voting with their feet. 
Ultimately the way you do business is determined by business processes, the technology that supports the processes and the skills of your people in delivering successful customer outcomes (sco’s).
If the pictures you create do not reflect the achievement and contribution towards the sco you wlll fail also.
So we need to better model reality. Warts and all. We should see the process for what is – a customer experience and understand it accordingly. That then reveals a treasure trove of possibilities for improvement, innovation and future success. Ironically the modeling purists observe this type of mapping looks very messy, and you know they are right. 
If it looks a mess it is because… it is a mess!
 So now we have a better fix on reality, both from the customers viewpoint and all the real stuff (not sunny day scenario) that is going on within on company. How do we move from this to a process that delivers the triple crown – lower costs, better service, growing revenues? That is our next piece…


Everything old is bad and antiquated and not everything new is shiny and good.

From the desk of James Dodkins…

“Not everything old is bad and antiquated and not everything new is shiny and good. The real secret to success is to combine the best of both.” Rene Carayol,  Senior Executive & Former Board Member for Pepsi, Marks & Spencer, IPC Media & The Inland Revenue.

The world’s leading companies have come to realize that only when their customers are successful, will they be successful. In pursuit of their market leadership not only they need to spend time to look inside their business to know how things are getting done but also look outward to get deep understanding of their customers.

Process has indeed come a long way from it humble routes amidst the early industrial revolution and Adam Smiths ‘Wealth of Nations’.

One of the first people to describe process was Smith who in 1776 describes a new way for process in an English pin factory. He outlines the production methods and created one of the first objective and measurable enterprise process designs. The consequence of ‘labour division’ in Smith’s example resulted in the same number of workers making 240 times as many pins as they had been before the introduction of his innovation.

Adam Smith participated in a revolution that transformed the planet. He lived at a time when the confluence of factors, political change, emergence of the New World, industrialization and a new optimism that the world could move from the shackles of the past.

In heralding a movement that developed into Scientific Management the foundation was laid that established a way of working that has survived and thrived for 200 years.

And yet now, more than ever, is a time to perhaps take a careful glance back to the past to guide the way for not only surviving the current economic turmoil but to also prepare us to thrive in the seismic shifts of the 21st century ‘new world’ order where the customer has become central to everything we do.

Leading global corporations are now evolving their tried and tested approaches into methods suited to the changed challenges of customer promiscuity, globalization, IT innovation and the Prosumer.  That is the essence of what we call Outside-In.

“The Customer Experience is the Process”
Outside-In can really be summarized in the statement that “the customer experience is the process”.  We can no longer just look within our organization boundary to create a sustainable competitive advantage. We have to extend our scope and embrace a broader view of optimizing process by understanding, managing and developing customer expectations and the associated experience. We need to articulate Successful Customer Outcomes and let those guide our product and service development as we move beyond the limiting scope of silo pyramidal based left to right thinking.

In 2006 BP Group Research identified the ‘Evolution of Approaches’ and how steps can be taken to grow Lean Six Sigma’s influence and success into a strategic Outside-In toolkit. In fact the last 4 years are seeing the fruition of these advances with recent Best in Class Award winners PolyOne, a dyed in the wool Lean outfit, advancing their stock price six fold in 18 months on the back of radical and innovative changes across its customer experience.

The Death knell for BPR, TQM, Lean and Six Sigma?
Some see Outside-In as the death knell for approaches developed during the late 20th century. Not so as that narrow and simplistic view does not acknowledge the stepping stones available to embrace the new customer centric order. In fact the foundations of our futures are always laid on the learnings of the past with those innovators who recognize the need to evolve leading that charge.

Victory will go to the brave who seize the moment and push forward their approaches into the brave new world of Outside-In.
The sector leaders have set a precedent – can you embrace the challenge?

To link process with performance we need to rethink what we mean by performance.

How do you measure performance? Is it via the task, activities and outputs your organization achieves? Think about the call center for instance. The number of calls answered, processed and dealt with. Wrong.

Performance should be measured directly by the Outcomes and Results that are achieved. Stop measuring success by number of calls dealt with in 180 seconds and instead ask yourself did we deliver a Successful Customer Outcome?

Look at the Key Performance Indicators. How many measure how much to those that measure what was achieved?

Process is just another name for the work we do.

You have to like those folks who do not understand this. Everything that takes place in the

organization is part of a process. Marketing, Strategy, IT it is all the same thing. 

Knowing this is fundamental to an organizations success.

Linking everything we do though to the Successful Customer Outcome is all that we should be doing. If it doesn’t contribute to the Successful Customer Outcome then stop doing it.

How can you share this insight with your colleagues?