Process Management 4 mins read

Business transformation: A multi-dimensional chess game

Learn why changes to your way of working and the human element have a tremendous influence on the way things work in business process transformation.

Caspar Jans Caspar Jans

Organizations are a lot like a chess game, move one piece and there is an effect on the others (expected or unexpected).

Whenever you open a business newspaper (yes, they do still exist) or visit business-related websites, or even look at LinkedIn, one of the first terms your eyes will catch is digital transformation.

I’ve said this before, and I will keep saying it: Digital transformation does not exist as such…it has to be part of a business transformation. And if it is not, it will be doomed to fail. These may be harsh words but in, my experience (having gone through various transformations both on the receiving as well as on the providing side), transformations virtually always boil down to the human element: Making sure that, whatever shiny new toys come into the organization, the people on the shop floor will accept and use them properly. Without this human acceptance, every digital transformation is DOA (dead on arrival).

In my recent blogs I have delved a bit deeper into how this works:

  1. Business Transformation 101

Changing a fundamental part (or multiple parts) of your organization is a core element of any business transformation (otherwise it would simply be yet another improvement project). One thing that becomes abundantly clear is that almost everything within any organization is somehow connected to a lot of other things in the same organization. Like in a multidimensional chess game, if you move one piece there is an effect on the others (expected or unexpected). Because of this dynamic I believe there are three major steps to a successful transformation:

  1. It starts from the very top
  2. You need to align the planets
  3. You need to build the solar system.

No, you did not end up in an astronomy blog, but if you would like to know what I mean, please read further here.

  1. Centralizing the human element

Until we reach the stage (if ever) where organizations consist solely of robots and computers, humans will remain both the most powerful – as well as the most unpredictable – resource an organization has. The term “way of working” is very often used when we talk about the procedures and work instructions that people need to tend to in order to execute their activities. Changing the way of working (via a new strategy, or a new app, or new interaction between your organization and the supplier universe) is one of the factors that have the biggest influence on your success rate. And on the collection of humans in your organization.

What can do about that? Continue reading here.

  1. How can BPM save your transformation?

We have identified that changes to the way of working and the human element have a tremendous influence on the way things work. Combining these, you can come to the conclusion that business process transformation is the very concept that link them all together. After all, business processes contain at least the following:

  • An actor (or multiple actors)
  • Input and output (of information)
  • Supporting systems
  • Policies, procedures of work instructions.

The question then becomes: How well did you capture or document your current way of working and your desired way of working? This is the field of business process management: documenting, governing, managing and improving your business processes (and all its related artifacts). In other words, if you want to succeed with your business process transformation, you might want to consider taking a BPM approach to it. For more information on this, please continue here.

  1. Some additional considerations

When you engage in a business transformation two considerations will be coming into the picture sooner or later (and I hope sooner). These are based on the best practices (for success and for failure) that we have seen in our customer base. They can be summarized as two main considerations:

  1. There is one group of diverse people (in terms of capabilities) that reports to C-level
  2. There is one underpinning management system containing all strategies, operating models, processes, systems, roles, risks including the way there are all connected.

Of course you’ll want to know why these two considerations are so critical, so I invite you to read the full blogpost on this topic here.

That’s it for this month, next month I will be talking about organizational change management