Does Process Matter?

There was an interesting discussion on ebizQ around the question “What does enterprise tech have to learn from Steve Jobs’ success?” What made it even more interesting for me is that even though the question was asked of the process community, not one person answered “better process management” and certainly not “leveraging a BPMS”. So does that mean that even the process community doesn’t see any way to link outsize success to better process management? – or is this just a quirk related to Apple?

If the same question would have been raised 60 or so years ago about the great manufacturing companies like GM – I’ll  bet we would have heard a lot more process related answers. Those companies really became succesful because of better processes. But today, when process professionals were asked about what made Apple great – the answer revolved around design, user experience, customer understanding and innovation.

It is clear that companies need to manage processes well, but that isn’t what makes a company great. I am sure Apple had some really good processes, but today those are table stakes. The real battlefield is in the realm of knowledge workers – design, user experience, innovation, customer understanding – and most of today’s process thinking and tools don’t help much there.  That is why I don’t think ignoring process as a success factor is a quirk related to Apple, it reflects what is really important for a company to be succesful in today’s world. Process won’t make your company great – design, user experience, customer understanding and innovation will.

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5 Responses to “Does Process Matter?”

  1. Scott Francis (@sfrancisatx) Says:

    Actually I’ve made the point about Apple and BPM several times over the years. I linked to the thread of articles in my ebizQ comment but I don’t blame you for not reading them all 😉

    In particular: http://www.bp-3.com/blogs/2009/01/apple-and-business-process-management/

    You’re wrong in saying that process isn’t what makes Apple great – their processes for product design and how they decide to go to market are the best. All the great designs in the world wouldn’t be enough if they didn’t have the process prowess to back them up. But, similarly, all the process prowess in the world isn’t enough if you don’t have the ability to design (see Dell, HP).

    Design, by the way, is a process… So is developing a good user experience. The companies that are good at this have process around it. It isn’t “automation” the way most people think when you say “process” but it is a process nonetheless.

    • Jacob Ukelson Says:

      Scott.
      Mea Culpa – I missed your post.

      Now that I have read it, I think we are saying the same thing – Apple does leverage world class processes – but that isn’t what makes them great.

      Jacob

  2. Craig J Willis Says:

    Process is a great way to design our business, unfortunately most process isn’t usable from a worker or customer perspective. And if it is that’s generally by accident.

    Process can and should be used to guide the way people work but it should not be deployed as thick text based manuals or complex over prescriptive process diagrams. It has to be almost invisible to the users, it’s there all the time but they hardly notice it.

    That, to me, is where process, design and usability should meet in the future.

  3. BPM Quotes of the week « Adam Deane Says:

    […] Process and Apple – Jacob Ukelson It is clear that companies need to manage processes well, but that isn’t […]

  4. Does Apple Have Great Processes? » Process for the Enterprise Says:

    […] Jacob Ukelson recently said: There was an interesting discussion on ebizQ around the question “What does enterprise tech have to learn from Steve Jobs’ success?” What made it even more interesting for me is that even though the question was asked of the process community, not one person answered “better process management” and certainly not “leveraging a BPMS”. So does that mean that even the process community doesn’t see any way to link outsize success to better process management? – or is this just a quirk related to Apple? […]

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