Think simplicity, think process

Working this week with two more clients focussed on simplicity (coincidentally both global media companies).

One has a strategic objective of ‘Simplifying A Complex World’ – and that’s within the organization, nothing to do with their clients. The other client has no snazzy name but has a similar internal program focussed on helping their people be more effective by making life simpler.

Simplicity is all the rage, and not just in media organizations. I’ve been involved in recent months with two other clients – a global drinks company and an aerospace manufacturer – coincidentally running internal programs with the same acronym – MAPLE (Making People’s Lives Easier).

That simplicity is hot is not surprising. There’s a lot of evidence that organizations find it hard even to visualise what knowledge workers do. They can see a production line so it’s easier to understand how to help the production line worker to be more efficient. When it comes to knowledge workers, they usually “settle for scattershot investments in training and IT systems”, to use McKinsey’s phrase.

What’s encouraging is the growing recognition that process is at the heart of simplicity and effective collaboration.

The makeover of process gathers pace. It’s great to see it being dragged out of IT and morph to become the lingua franca for the whole business. Once written off as hopelessly nerdy and technical, process, properly used, is increasingly seen as the best common language. The end-to-end processes of the organization, expressed in the language of the business and owned by the business, can describe all of its activities, including those of its knowledge workers, and how they all fit together.

If you wrap governance around it to make it authoritative and sustainable; and personalise the content for each personal, so it’s just the easiest place to go to find out how to get stuff done, then – et Voilá! – life is simpler, and the organization has the framework in place for effective collaboration on continuous improvement…

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Mike Gammage is VP and Principal Consultant at Nimbus Partners. Mike has worked in performance improvement consulting, and more recently the BPM space, for more than two decades. He is particularly interested in the overlap between two very dynamic worlds: BPM and perfomance improvement (the drive across all industries to standardise, improve and automate) and sourcing and the virtualisation of the enterprise (the drive to create more flexible and lower-cost service solutions through outsourcing, offshoring and shared services). In either case, Mike believes the enterprise needs a single source of truth about its end-to-end business processes, as well as a framework for the design and implementation of change. It also needs to connect the end-user and all other stakeholders to ensure the adoption of change. These are the keys to sustainable transformation and continuous improvement.