Saturday, May 08, 2010

Why I Don't Let Business Processes Interfere with my Business

I like to do two things. I like conversations with smart, intelligent and energetic colleagues. I also like to do intelligent, interesting and creative activities that add value for me, my company and my customers. The low points of my day are when I have to follow a business process designed by a well meaning, yet clueless, colleague, with no insight into the context in which I operate. I normally face three type of processes.

Poorly Designed processes that I cannot avoid
I tolerate the business processes that I cannot avoid. Expense reporting, leave application and time recording. I just put up with the mediocrity of these processes. I don't question them. I apply the experience and patience I gained from working for the Indian government, which is a poorly implemented version of British bureaucracy.

Poorly designed processes that I can and do ignore
These are the dreaded excel sheets or PowerPoint based templates designed by over enthusiastic colleagues who genuinely believe that they are helping others. Some of them are so motivated that they conduct two hour training programs on how to "fill out these forms in just 15 minutes". I just politely ignore such processes because they add no value to me or the business.

Clearly defined goals supported by simple flexible tools
Conversation, design and content creation are the best part of my work.  I enjoy activities such as talking to customers, understanding their problems and gathering their requirements. I also enjoy capturing my ideas, sharing them with colleagues and solving problems or designing things together with them.

I design my own business processes
Interestingly enough no business process can help me earn the trust of customers, help them solve their problems efficiently, create world class products and beat the competition. So I take tools that give me basic capabilities and come up with my own processes and templates that I design for myself. I add or remove features based on the context of my work. I invite people who will add value to the work and let them modify the process or template based on their context.

For example I use Atlassian Confluence wiki, which for all practical purposes has only two buttons. Edit and Save. I use this tool for almost every content creation work. Even though there are prescribed (and poorly designed) templates for content creation, I use Confluence for everything I do and transfer the content to the prescribed (and poorly designed) where required by policy or law. For content creation Atlassian Confluence is way better then any tool in the market.

For activities other than content creation, I use Streamwork. I create an activity in Streamwork, provide the context and invite only the people who matter. If they want to add more content to the activity, they can. They can also invite other people who they think can help. The open nature of Streamwork activity enables intelligence people shape their business process. I use stream work to manage my own performance, educate customers, bring people together to solve specific customer issues, manage exceptions, discuss design ideas, get feedback and take critical design decisions.

If you like what I do with Streamwork, you can try it out for free.
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