Avoid the Improvement Hype Cycle - Brad Power - The Conversation - Harvard Business Review

Avoid the Improvement Hype Cycle - Brad Power

Brad Power on habitual business process re-engineering:

Companies that practice process improvement have been victims of this hype cycle for decades. Fed by consultants, gurus, technology vendors, and academics, their enthusiasm for a particular process improvement method takes on a religious tone. Thus, today we have a number of process "religions": Statistical Process Control was followed by Total Quality Management, Business Reengineering, Six Sigma, Lean, and Business Process Management (BPM, which emphasizes process management software).

So true. What's important to recognize, though, is that no one of these process religions, as Brad calls them, are bad in and of themselves. It's the stacking of processes that gets in the way of productivity and -- ultimately -- of delivering results.

To combat this trend in process stacking requires a better awareness of organizational change management -- understanding and modeling how the whole organization deals with change to enable a more agile and responsive team when change is truly required, and an ability to understand when a new process is overkill.

Brad's three-point recommendation is sound, too, but pay particular attention to number three, "eradicate process lingo." You'll know you have a problem if you get Brad's point!