Business Process 1.0: All About the Parts
Business Process 1.0 had the following characteristics and focus:
- Individual organization functions (departments)
- Task level work
- Human effort
- Problem solving primarily by a functional manager, not teams
The main goal with BP 1.0 was cost reduction during a period of perpetual demand. And it succeeded quite well for close to 100 years until about 1980. Then, returns on improvement projects began to falter, but let's first look at the conditions that helped it to succeed.
Business Process 1.0 was all about functional improvement of work effort. Key conditions included:
- The scope of work tended to be a specific work function being performed in a particular department.
- The work function or department almost always had a single accountable person, usually a manager. In other words, the function was a box on the organization chart.
- The problems being addressed tended to be localized or relatively simple so that one person could work out the problem and solution in one mind.
- The problem being solved was not necessarily visible to those outside the department, although its impact might be.
These conditions led to the expression, "Don't come to me with a problem. Come to me with a solution"!
During the Business Process 1.0 era we also saw significant advances in technology with machines and computers replacing human effort. Quite often, at some specific tasks, these machines were hundreds of times more efficient than their human counterparts. Because of this, it is difficult to separate the contribution made by scientific management from the contribution made by automation. One could, although I won't, make the argument that it was automation that contributed much of the efficiency gains, rather than scientific management, during this era.
However, the success of Business Process 1.0 began to falter around the 1970-1980 timeframe. Although there were many methodologies that came out in and around that period, improvement projects rarely delivered on their promise. Business Process 1.0 was successful for two main reasons:
- Many improvement projects included first time automation in the form of machines or computerization, which dramatically increased capacity and efficiency.
- The problem, solution, and accountability resided in the same organization function (or box) making it easier to design, deploy, and subsequently manage and refine a solution.
During this era, managers and executives were often seen as "problem solvers." But why has this era come to an end? And why are companies still pursuing techniques and attitudes of Business Process 1.0 when clearly a new paradigm is required? If you're applying BP 1.0 techniques to a BP 1.0 problem, it is highly likely that you will succeed. However, if you apply BP 1.0 techniques and mindsets to a BP 2.0 or BP 3.0 problem, then it is highly likely that you will fail. So the key question is how do you know what kind of problem you have? To answer that we have to understand BP 2.0 and BP 3.0