Five corporate culture fixes for BPM success

By Marilyn de Villiers
Johannesburg, 01 Mar 2018

For many years, the focus of process improvement efforts has been on tools and methodologies, at the expense of harnessing the real engine of change - people.

So says Ivan Seselj, CEO of cloud BPM software developer and distributor, Promapp Solutions, who believes that people working in engaged teams are naturally driven to improve and succeed.

"Engaged teams armed with the right attitude can take any tools and turn their efforts into real improvement for your customers and for your bottom line," he adds.

"However, a weak process culture can really dent the success of any organisation."

A common problem among many organisations is that their corporate culture actively undermines this natural desire for improvement: no one looks at process guidance; process ownership and improvement is considered an administrative inconvenience; and outdated, inefficient processes are entrenched.

According to Seselj, some of the warning signs of a corporate culture that will kill the urge to improve - and how to fix these - include:

  • Invisible leadership.
  • The executive and the leadership team pay lip-service to the benefits that can be gained from investments in ongoing improvement. They regard process improvement as a fluffy nice-to-have or a grudge compliance requirement.

The fix: Demonstrate active leadership. Get leaders on board right from the beginning by demonstrating that there is an issue that needs addressing. Appoint a CPO (chief process officer) and process champions. These are the leadership roles responsible for communicating the vision to the organisation.

  • Initiatives that disempower teams.
  • Bringing in outside experts to change things, potentially alienating the true process owners - the people on the ground. Innovation cannot be driven from the top. Experts can be used to help promote engagement, but they cannot force change.

The fix: Empower the real process owners - the people who are ultimately responsible for the process operating effectively - and let them work with the process experts to ensure that processes will be kept up to date and any suggestions for improvements might actually be made.

  • Loss of momentum.
  • Projects start off with a big bang, but without any machinery to keep the processes and projects alive, things quickly revert to the old way of doing things and often gains are lost.

The fix: Sustain momentum - ensure process improvement remains a day to day priority by setting up a structure and a schedule for improving processes. Set up a process forum and hold improvement opportunity workshops regularly.

  • Unhelpful process documentation.
  • Having pages and pages of complicated and indecipherable process documents and charts can kill engagement, weaken the brand of process and result in hundreds of ignored procedures as the documents stagnate on shelves, gathering dust.

The fix: Introduce helpful process guidance that explains the process so well, it's comprehensible (at a high level at least) in ten seconds. Make the information easy to access by embedding links into the places and tools that teams already use every day.

  • No acknowledgement of improvement efforts.
  • All kinds of things are celebrated in organisations - with the exception of process. If there is no inspiration to succeed, teams cease to care.

The fix: Celebrate successes - people love to be praised and are often more productive when their successes are recognised; share information - send out automatic notifications of changes to processes to all stakeholders; be interesting and interested - make it personal and have fun by fostering the spirit of competition and holding team building exercises.