Mark Mullaly is president of Interthink Consulting Incorporated, an organizational development and change firm specializing in the creation of effective organizational project management solutions. Since 1990, it has worked with companies throughout North America to develop, enhance and implement effective project management tools, processes, structures and capabilities. Mark was most recently co-lead investigator of the Value of Project Management research project sponsored by PMI. You can read more of his writing at markmullaly.com.
Something very strange happened on the road to the future. Process actually became an important and worthy subject of business. It didn’t always used to be this way. Back in the distant reaches of 1993 or so, the idea that business processes were important was not a widely held one. You certainly weren’t getting any face time with senior management if you tried to argue the point.
Then a couple of consultants with a need to create a profile by selling books put pen to paper, and along came Reengineering the Corporation. Life in business just hasn’t been the same since.
Since then, we’ve seen an inexorable effort to define, to document, to map and to generally improve our processes. Numerous consultants have attempted to argue that their way of representing processes by drawing boxes and arrows was new, proprietary and, most importantly, better. Literally thousands of them have simply bypassed that debate, and have spent hundreds of hours, days, weeks and months drawing lines and boxes on paper as they define and chart their customers’ “current state” and “future state”. The problem with all of this is that boxes, lines and arrows are just so much ink, Post-it notes and flipchart paper. They aren’t the processes, they’re simply the representation of the processes. Processes are how people work,