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From crisis to hypercrisis with a crisis manager

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A company came into difficulties and appointed a crisis manager. That crisis manager was demonstrating an abundance of activities, where-under a restructuring program.

The restructuring program consisted of 7 projects of which 1 cost cutting project, 1 major IT project and several improvements projects related to the functional organisation.

The crisis manager had heard Business Process Management was a good methodology to support the program (7 projects) and a means to achieve quick wins. After the projects were launched, it was asked to provide an opinion. What I discovered was:

  • The cost cutting project was cutting costs in core activities but left side-activities untouched because they were less costly. That way the future of the organisation became uncertain.
  • The IT project was supporting none of the existing processes. Implementing the IT project would lead to an increase in costs which exceeded the decrease obtained in the first project.
  • The other 5 projects were eager to adopt BPM, in allegory terms: one for building a church, one wanted to build a school, another project wanted to build villas, there was also an elderly home and the last project wanted just to destroy any building built by the 4 others.
  • All project managers were competing for the same company resources to have their project finished in time. The normal functioning of the organisation  became impossible.
  • The whole of the organisation 's strategy was formulated in 2 lines and consisted in an increase of market share and a decrease in costs.

The reason for this (meanwhile) hyper-crisis? The project managers had no idea of any quantification of the services which had to be delivered, nor the channel through which they had to be delivered. They were proceeding in the dark concerning the expected outcome of their projects. If the capabilities of their solutions were clear, the capacity of those capabilities were not.

The best way to ruin an organisation is to shoot in the wild with incoherent project outcomes and omit the formulation of any (quantified) strategy.

This is why the Business Segment matrix model (in management sciences also known as Ansoff's product/market matrix) is a core management tool / model in any organisation for alignment of the resources. This includes the periodic budget rounds  whereby the allocation of resources will depend on the strategic choices for future outputs.


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Last Updated on Friday, 25 July 2014 16:28

Games where the throne of the organisation is at stake

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What happened in a time span of 30 years during which the values ruling business changed.

In the seventies I learned a corporation has responsibilities towards many stakeholders, society as a whole was one of them, and not the least. In the beginning of the twenty-first century the cry 'greed is good' is shouted over an economic graveyard where trust is the least available asset. Particularly where one would expect it: in the finance industry.

This article treats the bi-polar view on the forces in power of an organisation, the differences, the context within which they appeared, the threats they represent and finally what could be done to reduce the risks involved in each of the approaches.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 June 2014 08:33

On the value of definitions

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On the value of definitions.

The term definition sounds quite definitive... Is that the reason why so many arguments are exchanged in the process of finding a consensus on a definition? Why otherwise is that process often so emotionally loaded? How much do formulations of definitions cost the organization in time and efforts? What is done with those definitions? Are they mental ankers to climb higher in mental constructs or are they tightening freedom of mind? To evaluate the value of definitions, I made a small experiment and formulated an alternative approach to the single truth, golden record,...

Last Updated on Sunday, 11 May 2014 11:40
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On architectures (Enterprise, business, IT, SOA, and solutions)

The first time that an IT professional showed me a plan of IT architecture, he shared a map of a plant on an A0 format (1 square meter). This map showed buildings with their IT infrastructure. This included the location of the servers, which software was running on which server, and even the cable layout. This map of IT architecture helped the poor man find his way around the servers that he had to administer. The plant in question was very big. His physical condition also deserved a lot of respect, because of this huge map roll that he had to carry everywhere he went, to save himself from getting lost. Compared to the Michelin guide you would use in a car, this man’s IT architecture map was hell (European city planning still seems to be popular as a framework for IT architecture).


The effect of coffee on the outcome of different meeting formats

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Symbolism in management and their unexpected impact are fields of study on their own.

Strangely enough I experienced coffee as a symbol a few times in the work environment. To show social involvement, fair trade coffee was distributed in the organization. To show care for the health of the workers, organic coffee was adopted. When the organization wanted to display its cultural involvement the Italian coffees and sophisticated derivatives became available. In many organizations coffee was free of charge for many years. I remember the so called 'coffee ladies', unprecedented in popularity, bringing the liquid gold to the smallest and most remote offices in the buildings. The arrival of those ladies, with their caddies strategically placed, was the signal for the colleagues in the designated perimeter to meet. During those short meetings not only the last gossips were exchanged but also processes were being oiled. Meaning that, where blocked activities got unblocked. Priorities were adapted, again for the benefit of the process in which the meeting parties were involved. No agenda, so no work disturbance was experienced; problems were solved around a cup of coffee. Coffee was the catalyst around which colleagues found creative solutions to blocking situations and all kinds of issues.


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