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March 10, 2011

The Trouble With Outside-in

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In the Harvard Business Review this week Brad Power wrote a very poignant article entitled "Uniting the Religions of Process Improvement" (the title speaks for itself).

As many of you will know I am a big fan of the CEM Method - a structured methodology used to take an outside-in (customer centric) approach to process improvement. It's not the only methodology that I use, however; I use parts of Lean and Six Sigma where I feel they are appropriate and practical. In short I am passionate about CEM Method, but I'm not locked in to it as a method.

Over the past year I have witnessed horrendous, childish bunfights between the CEM Method brigade and the BP Trends contributors - this discussion is a classic example. Yes, I started the fight, I will take credit (or debit) for that, but my point of the discussion was to understand why BP Trends had a closed door policy on outside-in thinking and methods. The door is still closed it appears, and after the review of Harvard Professor Ranjay Gulati's book on Outside-in that door doesn't look like being opened any time soon. I find it ironic that as catalysts for change, some process people find it so difficult to adapt to new ways of thinking and of new methods.

But there IS a problem with outside-in and the CEM Method. It's a closed shop. Rather, it's a shop you can come into, but you'll have to pay. You will find no textbooks explaining the CEM Method. You will find plenty of books talking about outside-in and customer centricity - but as for the method, sorry you can enter the club sir, but you must be a member.

Therein lies the problem. Whilst the BP Group appear to be growing in numbers at a large rate, and consequently the number of "Certified Process Professionals" is also increasing, CEM Method remains a largely unknown commodity. In short, its credibility as a tool in the marketplace is lacking - not because of a lack of results, but simply because it is not well known. As a result of this closed shop there is also a lack of credible analysis of achievements (here I am talking Gartner or Forrester).

So where does this leave the "Certified Process Professionals" and "Certified Process Masters?" In short, frustrated. Frustrated that when we speak to clients they have never heard of the terms or the methods. Frustrated that they can't pick up a book and learn about it. Frustrated that there is no alternative to learning it other than paying thousands of dollars for a course.

Now is the time for the CEM Method to become truely outside-in - and become an open method, available to all.

Cheers,

TPN

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Craig:
Excellent post.
In the past I had some pointless discussions with BP Group members because they refuse to couple that it's method it's a way to improve a process. They say that every other process improvement method is outdated, and this is so wrong because the trick is using the correct technique to tackle the problem.

Excellent post! Unless and until CEMMethod is available in the public domain it will invite limited acceptance and usage - until then it's just another expensive proprietary methodology like so many others before.

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