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Knowledge To Help Elevate Your Compliance

Our Obsession with Processes – Too busy building, not enough living.

A critique is going around that process management needs to be more holistic. I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, for many this means adopting a process-centric view of the organization.


The rationale is since organizations are made up of processes the key to success is to identify, catalogue, manage, and improve all our processes. This approach takes everything that is essential and reduces it to a process – a part of the whole but not the whole itself.


To accomplish this many things need to be conflated in order to fit into a process-centric view of the world. Ironically, this ends up being more reductive and far from the holistic approach that many are looking for.


This obsession with processes creates a problem that many struggle to overcome which is a lack of effectiveness. Many organizations have all the processes they believe they need yet still fail to deliver the goods.


They have plenty of trees but not enough forest.


How this impacts compliance


The process-centric approach pervades compliance, particularly management systems.


Even with using a robust framework designed with strong architectural principles you can still fail to achieve the purpose for having compliance in the first place.


In fact, all too often when I review an organization’s compliance what I find is scaffolding, and partial framing that are insufficient to create something that is operational.


They have many of the parts, many of the processes, but lack the essential capabilities needed to achieve compliance operability – compliance that is fit for purpose, able to achieve compliance, and capable of realizing the intended benefits.


To make matters worse, if asked when they might start delivering benefits the answer is always:


we don't reach effectiveness until step 5 of our maturity process, but don’t worry we will get there in the end.

Unfortunately, many never do, and those that do arrive too late.


Need for something that works


Many organizations would be better off with compliance that is working – that is operational –even if the capability was that of a scooter, rather than having a garage full of car parts that maybe – one day – will finally become a car that works.


Without an operational perspective you can never fully know how to improve a process or even what processes you actually need until you understand its purpose and how it fits into the overall system.


For compliance, establishing processes and building frames may help you pass an audit.


However, it will only be when they work together to form an operational system that you will finally start to realize benefits.


Instead of being busy building frames and processes, compliance needs to be busy experiencing the benefits that come from being in compliance. This is necessary for all organizations that intend to deliver total value.


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