UPS, TED, BPM and The Adjustment Bureau

Just saw The Adjustment Bureau. The movie’s concept was great…there are many paths to many different outcomes, each choice having a “ripple effect” on the future. Paths are managed in book-like technology with many complex symbols leading to “inflection points”.

This spaghetti-wired mess is only intelligible to the trained agents of The Adjustment Bureau. Only these experts, above it all, can keep “The Plan” on track through skillful intervention. The twist arrives in “chance”, unpredicted events that are the enemy of The Plan (and are all-too commonplace). Sound familiar?

I think I’ll write an alternative screenplay I’ll call ‘Reality BPM’, where everyone in your company has the ability to know the ‘plot’ through a system that organizes activity and its context using simple expressions, distributes content real-time to everyone who needs it, and makes it relevant and personal. This show lacks all of the ‘tension’ and the ‘cliffhanger’ ending. Sound less exciting? A box office bomb, in fact. Way too predictable.

People are visual. We ‘get’ what we can see, which is why we love whiteboards, clever logos, PowerPoint (…when it is used graphically) and video. Why does BPM need to be any different when the technology exists to see the World of our work and find our place within it?

Because ‘experts’ are choosing our entertainment!? I took part in a recent APQC Frameworks Study where UPS wowed the crowd when they showed how they manage all process through four symbols, basic names, easy flows. It is simple, role-based and everyone understands it at a glance. Simply put, it works.

At this year’s TED Conference, Salman Khan gave a great talk on how simple visual images on video are changing education. He’s on to something that is just as powerful in BPM…people respond when they can visually digest what they need to do, in the context of broader activities, and follow it intuitively. A dull but very effective plot line. We should all be in line for that show.

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Chris Taylor joined Nimbus in 2009 as VP Consulting Americas, and leads a team of business process improvement consultants who serve major corporations across the world. Chris’s clients include Nestlé, Cisco, Northrop Grumman, ThyssenKrupp and many others, who use Business Process Management (BPM) tools and techniques to drive process standardisation, improvement, quality and compliance initiatives. His insight to what makes BPM a sustainable success for so many client organisations makes him a valuable industry commentator. Before joining Nimbus, Chris held senior consulting and leadership roles focused on business transformation with ILOG (now IBM), Perot Systems and Accenture. In his early career, Chris managed aircrew and flight operations while flying for the US Navy. He is an avid skier, hiker and sailor and spends most of his off time exploring the mountains and coasts near his home in Southern California and the rest of the world.