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Wednesday, 15 May 2013

5steps in considering culture and business process improvement

the following 5 steps are summarised and inferred from the following ....

Schmiedel, Theresa, vom Brocke, Jan, & Recker, Jan (2013) "Which cultural values matter to business process management? Results from a global Delphi study". Business Process Management Journal, 19(2), pp.292-317. and available here 

for the purposes of the study culture was mainly defined through invisible values, that manifest themselves in visible actions and structures, such as ceremonies, manners, technology, products, organization charts, etc. etc. (where a value is what a group considers as desirable, i.e. ideals that influence behavioral and organizational patterns of a group) 

the Delphi method the study used relies on the use of business process management (BPM) expert opinions “to obtain the most reliable consensus” via a series of questionnaires with controlled feedback.  Two types of BPM experts were distinguished: academics and practitioners from many different countries. This was done to balance opinions from academia and practice as both have an influence on the development and diffusion of BPM as a management approach.   The Delphi study was conducted between February and May 2011. 

so those 5 steps ...

1) assess your organisation versus 4 values (arrived at by the study) - which are ....
- Customer orientation (the proactive and responsive attitude towards the needs of process output recipients - so from an organisation perspective this is an external perspective)

- Excellence (the orientation towards continuous improvement and innovation to achieve superior process performance - so so from an organisation perspective emphasizes flexibility in that constant change in an organization is perceived as a trigger to performance enhancement. ) 
- Responsibility (the commitment to process objectives and the accountability for process decisions - so so from an organisation perspective relates to stability because commitment and accountability represent a structural control mechanism that provides stability
- Teamwork (refers to the positive attitude towards cross-functional collaboration - so from an organisation perspectivean internal focus on collaboration within an organization across functional boundaries )

(one of the experts identified a nice credo of an ideal employee in a process oriented company: ‘I am committed to work with others to continually improve the performance of my business process to deliver excellent service/product to the customer and I take full responsibility for my actions’)

2) assess your organizational culture (using the CVF - Competing Values Framework - explained in the diagram and text below)

- the CVF has 2 dimensions: focus (internal vs. external) and structure (flexibility vs. stability) 
- which provide the basis for the identification of four types of organizational culture labeled with the following action imperatives: collaborate, control, compete, and create

focusing on internal aspects,
- collaborate culture - characterized by a strong sense of belonging to a community, 
- control culture - driven by organizational rules, policies, and processes which account for security, efficiency, and uniformity. 

regarding an external focus
- compete culture - is concerned with productivity, performance, and goal achievement
- create culture - emphasizes growth, risk taking, trend identification, innovation, and adaptability to changing environments. 

(Diagram taken from paper)

3) assess possible cultural obstacles (using the labels explained in 1) & 2) above) - for example, an organization may perceive a trade-off between focusing on the excellence of internal processes and focusing on adapting to changing external customer requirements; or they may perceive fixed responsibilities as a static structural element that inhibits the creative atmosphere that is required for innovations. 

4) debate whether your organisation could achieve several of the cultures and values simultaneously (the study argues that it is possible and desirable for organizations to take all four perspectives simultaneously as only their simultaneous presence makes up a business process management culture. In other words, values can and should be realized simultaneously in order to provide a supportive cultural setting for a business process management approach. This interpretation suggests that while an existing organizational culture may be primarily determined by one of the four culture quadrants, the other three can also be present, complementing this predominant culture focus)

5) determine how you can institutionalize (in visible actions and structures) all four values  - rather than take a reductionist focus on single values only. So values can be institutionalized in corporate training programs; used as guides in project team selection and for hiring decisions; used in end-of-year peer performance evaluations; used as a guide for managers on how to recognize and reward employees. 

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