Thursday, March 01, 2012

Business excellence - how do you know you've got it?

There is a concept of 'excellence' that is often used in business improvement to show that we are doing something so well that everybody agrees that we are excelling at it. On the BPM ebizQ forum this morning, the question came up of what is process excellence, and what is a key metric to show it?

A great response from Steve Weissman sums up the difficulty of measuring any form of excellence:

It's sort of like pornography in that – as Supreme Court Associate Justice Potter Stewart famously once wrote – it's hard to define but "I know it when I see it."

My thinking was along similar lines, that excellence is hard to measure but easy to know when you observe it working in practice:

I'll suggest that process excellence is an emotional response to a process or set of processes. "Happiness" could be the very untechnical metric.

If everybody is truly "happy" with an organization's processes, there is a good chance they are excellent. When we don't have process excellence, it is hard to measure but easy to observe: users don't fully adopt them and there is rarely additional investment.

As with anything we do in business, happiness with processes just means that they are delivering the results that everybody wants without getting in the way. So maybe I could have suggested an even better non-metric to define business or process excellence:

If you don't notice that you are performing a process or activity because it is so easy and natural, and it has the desired results every time, you have probably achieved excellence,

A post from the Improving It blog

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