Business Process Management

Systems Thinking


Business Process Thinking

Shift from traditional functional mindset



Vadim Kotelnikov

Andrew Spanyi

Enterprise-wide Business Process Management Cross-functional Teams Traditional Management Model Managrial Leadership Business Process Thinking Ten3 Business e-Coach: why, what, and how

Business Process Thinking: Management Team Attitudes

The Central Belief

"Business process thinking is predicated upon the central belief that it is fundamentally the complex, cross-departmental, technology-enabled business process that create value to customers and shareholders."

This predication assumes that every significant management activity should begin with an analysis of customers' needs and have, as an intrinsic objective, the shared understanding of the key business processes or organizational capabilities that are critical to satisfying those needs."2

Transforming the Traditional Functional Mindset

Excerpts from BPM Approaches & Best Practices. Andrew Spanyi

In far too many organizations, senior management's traditional functional mindset represents one of the most significant barriers to change. Indeed, there is reason to believe that the traditional functional paradigm has done more to impede customer focused, business performance improvement over the past two decades than almost any other factor.

This way of thinking stands in the way of executives understanding and improving the flow of cross-functional activities which create enduring value for customers and shareholders. It promotes the type of thinking that impedes the effective deployment of enabling information technology. It promotes also 'silo behavior' and turf protection, and an undue pre-occupation with organization structure. This mindset contributes to the mistaken belief that if it was somehow possible to properly define the boxes on the organizational chart, and fill in the names of the "right" people in the key boxes then the organization's performance will automatically improve. Yet, little is further from the truth.

Further, it encourages a distorted view of performance measurement and executive rewards, shifting focus away from meaningful measures such as the timeliness and quality of services provided to customers, and towards less significant measures around functional departmental performance.

It reinforces a task focus and traditional command and control behavior, where questions such as 'What is the scope of my responsibility?' 'What tasks I execute?' and 'Who are the key subordinates who can help me look good?' are foremost and top of mind.

Moreover, traditional functional thinking has also led to outdated management practices in the areas of goal setting and problem solving and it stifles innovation.

So what to do? How can you transform the traditional functional mindset such that your organization is designed to make it easy for customers to do business with the company and easier for employees to better serve the company's customers?

There is increasing evidence that an effective way of transforming the traditional functional mindset is to embrace enterprise business process thinking and install enterprise business process management (EBPM) practices.

What does this involve? Frankly, it requires a lot of very hard work, and concepts which will make some of your executives very, very uncomfortable.

Why do it? Simply because the benefits of making this mental model transition are significant.

Kaizen the Japanese Management Philosophy

Kaizen means "improvement". Kaizen strategy calls for never-ending efforts for improvement involving everyone in the organization managers and workers alike. It concentrates at improving the process rather than at achieving certain results. Such managerial attitudes and process thinking make a major difference in how an organization masters change and achieves improvements... More




  1. Agenda, Michael Hammer

  2. "Business Process Management is a Team Sport", Andrew Spanyi

  3. "BPM - Approaches & Best Practices", Andrew Spanyi

  4. "Beyond Process Maturity to Process Competence", Andrew Spanyi