Business Transformation: The Unified Theory of Business

bpm - business transformationSynopsis
The world of business is undergoing dramatic change. Driven by a number of factors organizations are needing to realign themselves to adapt and evolve. This transformation is global and reaches into every business sector impacting how companies create, deliver and sustain their products and services.

This six part article reviews the reasons for the change, the size of the challenge and how some world leading trend setter companies are achieving dramatic success in this new order.

| Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Part Two – The Unified Theory of Business

Advanced BPM provides us with a framework and system for creating and sustaining successful organizations. Its central tenet is that all organizations should be built and designed ‘Outside-In’ with a focus to achieving Successful Customer Outcomes.

In industry and business no one invents anything completely new. Rather people see how existing ideas fit into new frameworks. The components of a new idea are usually floating around in the milieu of business research and discourse prior to its discovery. What is new is the packaging of these components into a cohesive whole.

Similarly the idea that all business should be oriented to achieve Successful Customer Outcomesand ‘Outside-In’ is not entirely new. It has been floating around in various forms for some time. But it is only now assuming its rightful position at the centre of business theory and practice.

Interestingly some of the pioneers, both business leaders and theorists, of Advanced BPM and ‘Outside-in’ thinking and practice had a notion of how best to align businesses to achieve success. In 1985 Paul Strassman in ’Information Payoff The Transformation of Work in the Information Age’ discussed how information technology changes the very nature of work and why we do it …. he didn’t use the words Successful Customer Outcomes or Outside-In but he was thinking along the same lines.

steve-jobsMore recently, in 1997, Steve Jobs pointed the way at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference “Technology is nothing. You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back towards the technology – not the other way around”. Some will note the phrase working backwards, which has indeed also become the mantra of Jeff Bezos at Amazon, “There are two ways to extend a business. Take inventory of what you’re good at and extend out from your skills. Or determine what your customers need and work backward, even if it requires learning new skills. Kindle is an example of working backward.”

Since the mid 1980’s, terms such as customer centric, business process management and the agile organization, have grabbed the minds of business leaders and academics alike. They all refer to related ideas. For example, in 1993 Hammer and Champy in their book ‘Reengineering the Corporation’ proclaimed the need to ‘start over’ and rethink the way work is done. Writers and Consultants such as Charles Handy, the leading European authority, academics Kaplan & Norton, renowned BPM author Peter Fingar, Dr. Tom Davenport and many more of written, theorized and in some cases pointed out the pivotal role of the Customer for all organizations.

What has been lacking is putting these disparate ideas into a coherent and practical framework. This I argue has not been done before and is precisely what Advanced BPM and Outside-In is all about. While successful ‘outside-in’ organizations may not explicitly call their approaches that the principles, methods and application are there and accessible by others.


In Part Three we will ‘look into’ some of these success stories including Virgin, South West, Best Buy, Citibank, FedEx Kinko, Zara, Indigo plus others  and examine emerging Advanced BPM and Outside-In next practice and review its implication for everyone.

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By Steve Towers @ BP Group | April 4, 2012

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