The 3 Layers of an Organisation’s Processes

Look at the processes in any organisation and they can be split quite neatly into 3 layers.

  1. Operations. These processes are the lifeblood of the organisation. Each and every one of them contributes directly to delivering goods / services to the organisation’s customers. The people operating these processes are the organisation’s front line, and woe betide the organisation which doesn’t recognise this.
  2. Infrastructure. Any organisation has to be managed, so it needs management processes. Think of Finance, HR, IT, Facilities…. The processes behind these functions are not directly customer facing but they are still essential to the business.
  3. Change. The invisible layer, but a particularly important one as change and innovation becomes an increasingly important factor in the survivial of an organisation. Think of the 3 Ps – projects, programmes and portfolios. These activities bring change and these activities need to be managed. Any organisation undergoing change has a need for change processes.

It seems to the DeliveryDemon that many organisations struggle to optimise their change processes. Change activities are often tied to the business unit undergoing change, with limited links to the broader business, and little if any coherent attention to the change processes themselves. Strategic planning activity gives rise to change in both Operational and Infrastructure processes, but many organisations give little thought to the Change processes which form the bridge between strategy and delivery.

The Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute’ Capability Maturity Model has been around for some time http://www.sei.cmu.edu/cmmi/. Although its roots are in software development it is in fact a widely applicable model. It classifies processes as:

  1. Initial
  2. Repeatable
  3. Defined
  4. Managed
  5. Optimizing

CMMI Models are a good foundation for assessing whether Change and other processes operate reliably and consistently. What they don’t provide is a model of good practice for the processes being assessed.

As change and innovation become ever more important to the success of commercial organisations, the DeliveryDemon is watching to see which organisations are leading the thinking when it comes to optimising change management in order to deliver strategy effectively.

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