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BPM: How training programs reflect growing process awareness

A lot of what we do in our consulting and Process TestLab work tends to make its way into our training programs. A couple of weeks ago we took a long hard look at how our trainings have developed over the years. In comparison to some of the first BPM training programs I had drawn up 10 years ago, we were particularly struck by how far we’ve moved away from standardized solution-oriented trainings to a much more problem focussed and self-help-based approach:

Whereas our early trainings were focussed on – often large-scale – organisational and IT-based solutions, our trainings nowadays tend to be more focussed on helping participants understand the root causes of process issues. On reflection, this has been a more unconscious development over the years on our part and maybe a reflection of the fact that a solution is only a solution if it solves a problem. If you don’t know what the problem is, anything you do will be more along the lines of ‘because we can’ instead of ‘because it helps’.

I would guess that the main reason for this shift is down to the fact that the training participants have generally become much more ‘process-savvy’ than they were 10 years ago. Many of those who take part in our trainings are process experts or are at least very conscious of their process environment. Many know that things could be done better but they have also seen multiple efforts go wrong for any number of reasons. In other words, with growing experience, the level of disillusionment with large-scale and consultant-driven solutions has also risen and has led to new expectations on process trainings.

We have made the participants experience with processes an integral part of our training programs with the result that many of the case studies we include in the trainings are actually from the participants themselves. This way, participants get the chance to map their experiences to what we try to share from our set of experiences. The results are often fascinating like in a process management training session last week during which a product manager described how the process development project for a new product was focussed entirely on the operational processes without any consideration for quality issues, risks nor how the process could eventually be managed. The training group quickly developed a list of points of failure, designed a corresponding process from the point of view of the customer and came up with a list of practical suggestions on how to make the process operational.

Of course, this approach to planning and conducting trainings is extremely time consuming for the trainers. On the other hand, it’s also more rewarding when you see how the participants apply the newly acquired knowledge to their everyday process problems. It may only be a small step on the road to continuous process improvement (vs. ‘proper’ projects) but it’s an essential one.

Final hint: Visit taraneon to find out more about our BPM training programs

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10 lessons for 2010

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