Don’t should all over your next BPM project

convincingRecent research has shown that there is a simple method to vastly improve the chance that people will do what you want. For the moment I’ll hold off on what that is, because the story starts way before this.

To get a BPM project right, a few things need to happen.

Challenge 1: Capture and agree on standard way we work

The starting point is capturing what people are supposed to do, who is responsible and what the handoffs are. This seemingly simple requirement is fundamental; yet at the start of many projects there  wide differences in opinion and understanding about these matters – even from teams who have worked together for years. Without getting agreement, it becomes like an orchestra where everyone is playing off their own score.

Luckily there are proven ways, such as workshops, to get to consensus about the way processes should run. First challenge met.

Challenge 2: Communicate the way we work to people who have to do it

Agreed upon processes must be pushed out to those who need to do the work in a way that they understand.  This too sounds deceptively simple at first blush, but is rarely done well.  Can you find the way you are supposed to hire a new employee at your company?  Can you understand whatever SOP or format the instructions take?  Do you clearly understand what’s expected at each step?  In many companies the answer is “no”.

The key to solving this challenge is to have a single, easy to understand view of the current process “truth” and to make it easy to find and trust.

Challenge 3: Make it easy to do

A colleague called me last Friday and cursed (for several minutes) the clunky old time reporting tool he had to use.  He had just spent 20 minutes meticulously entering his hours, time codes, project codes and descriptions of work performed.  One mis-click of his mouse and a back button later, all was lost.  The message screen scoldingly told him he shouldn’t use browser navigation.  The punishment was 20 more minutes of duplicate work.  This user experience reminded me of having to write “I will not hit the back button…” 100 times on a blackboard.  Not very motivating.  Or productive.

Challenge 4: Making people choose to do it

Let’s face it, most people don’t like to be told what they “should” do. Researchers are finding that behavior change apps that deliver a “should” or “must” message are rarely effective over the long haul.  People begin to push back against being told to do something, even if it’s something for their own good.  There’s a lot of wisdom in this.  Indeed, one of my yoga instructors intones, in moments of class silence says, “Don’t should all over yourselves“.  What’s the cure? To reinforce by a “but you are free” technique, that people are free to decide.

For more on this idea of affirming a right to choose, read Nir Eyal’s Tech Crunch piece, Why Behavior Change Apps Fail to Change Behavior.

There is plenty of angst and lots of spilled ink over how to make BPM successful. Here’s a little more of that ink, but this comes from years of working in BPM projects and reflects the only way to truly make BPM successful. You’re welcome :-).


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Categories: BPM

Author:Tom Molyneux

A business process strategist with a focus on real-time event management.

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