Has BPI Lost its Luster?

Michael R. Wood is a Business Process Improvement & IT Strategist Independent Consultant. He is creator of the business process-improvement methodology called HELIX and founder of The Natural Intelligence Group, a strategy, process improvement and technology consulting company. He is also a CPA, has served as an Adjunct Professor in Pepperdine's Management MBA program, an Associate Professor at California Lutheran University, and on the boards of numerous professional organizations. Mr. Wood is a sought after presenter of HELIX workshops and seminars in both the U.S. and Europe.

It was over 25 years ago I devoted my professional life to helping organizations improve their ability to deliver value to stakeholders. During the first 15 years of that pursuit, few understood the importance of aligning business processes and supporting technologies with the needs, goals and objectives of an organization’s customers, employees, owners and strategic suppliers.

In the late 1980s through the mid-1990s, all eyes were on Total Quality Management (TQM), which fell out of favor due to its failure to deliver on improvement promises. Then came the successes with Six Sigma, a framework for reducing defects in manufacturing processes to defect levels below 3.4 defects per million opportunities and made famous by Jack Welch in the 1990s at GE. By the late 1990s, two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies had launched Six Sigma initiatives. It was in this same time frame that I published my first book on the methods I had developed in the late 1970s and had honed through the ’90s.

Other techniques like Kaizan and reengineering also became popular. Business Process Improvement (BPI) was alive, well and thriving. But like so many innovative ideas and methods, the value proposition waters became murky and muddy as everyone began jumping on the bandwagon, initiatives fell short and the market became flooded with mediocre talent.

Today, BPI is often listed …

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