Positive actions aid positive attitudes

'When compelled to do something, perform an action or process, or behave in some way, the human psyche finds ways to positively deal with the situation," says Dennis Wisnosky, chairman and ceo of Wizdom Systems Inc. (Naperville, Ill.), which provides business process reengineering and knowledge management products and services.


'When compelled to do something, perform an action or process, or behave in some way, the human psyche finds ways to positively deal with the situation," says Dennis Wisnosky, chairman and ceo of Wizdom Systems Inc. (Naperville, Ill.), which provides business process reengineering and knowledge management products and services. "The behavior causes an attitude change, not the opposite. In other words, try it; you'll like it."

Mr. Wisnosky uses this psychological axiom—that behavior changes before attitude—to describe his "Seven Habits of the Highly Effective Process-Based Organizations." He adds these habits can apply equally well to organizations' individual members and help them enhance their careers.

1. Process is not confused with function

An airplane performs a function, but it requires a process to put it to good use. Mr. Wisnosky says a process model can be seen as a recipe, but one that can be adapted and deviated from in light of useful experience.

Corollary: Process thinking is not easy. "When you get people together to talk about building a process model and organization, you're going to have a lot of arguments," says Mr. Wisnosky.

2. Each process has an owner

Each process needs someone to take on the responsibility of owning and nurturing it. However, Mr. Wisnosky says these days most people want to pass that ownership on to someone else, which can't be allowed to happen.

Corollary: Fortunately, process owners can be someone not on the original organizational chart. This is because the network of who regularly talks to whom is a process organization's actual organizational structure.

3. Process execution flows through the organization

Once its owners and members build a process model, they have to decide how to implement it in their organization. They need to examine the constraints, hierarchical considerations, and environmental impacts that will affect how their model is applied and flows within the organization.

Corollary: Beware of Claude Shannon. A former Bell Labs scientist, Mr. Shannon developed a "Theory of Information" in 1948. Mr. Wisnosky says this theory uses complex math to find signals that can help users separate useful information from noise. He adds this can be very hard to do in an organization, though it's very important when trying to turn a process model into a practical process flow.

4. Processes external to the model are also managed

Though a supply chain recently meant little more than how material moved from one supplier to another, a process organization's conception of it must extend beyond these traditional areas.

Corollary: Really beware of Claude Shannon. Because unforeseen problems can creep into a process organization even when its members are being watchful, its managers must pay close attention at all times. "Owners might think they're being alert, but these days there can be forces on the other side of the world that are working against them," says Mr. Wisnosky.

5. Process performance is measured

Whether they examine financial statements or quality scorecards, process organizations need to use one or more techniques to measure quality. Mr. Wisnosky says many quality measures were described by Frederick Taylor in 1911 in "Principles of Scientific Management." He adds this is the habit closest to traditional management methods.

Corollary: Quality measurements must fit the situation and historical time in which they're used.

6. Processes are constantly evolving

"We should be a lot more in favor of continuous process improvement," says Mr. Wisnosky. "Incremental change or seeking a series of base hits works a lot better and is more durable than going for a home run every time.

Corollary: Cross the chasm carefully. Every process will eventually get to the point where it can't be improved, and process organizations must recognize this point and look for what it going to replace that old process. "Not recognizing the jump from what was to what will be kills many careers and organizations," says Mr. Wisnosky. "Organizations and people must study new technology, so they can integrate them more easily."

7. Some processes are experiments

There will be failures. Learn from them. Process organizations need to allow room for contingencies, prototypes, and problems. Not every new process is going to work.

Corollary: Fail early so you can stay late in you career. "You don't have to like a situation, such as being laid off, but you can behave like some good can come from it," says Mr. Wisnosky. "This can help individuals begin to put together game plans for the rest of their careers in much the same way they assess any new engineering project. People can often use traditional skills in new settings. Just because someone loses a job doesn't mean they've lost their abilities."

For more information on Wizdom Systems Inc., visit www.controleng.com/freeinfo .

Author Information

Jim Montague, news editor jmontague@cahners.com

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