When Tools Become Everything…

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My daughter loves playing with her Doctor’s kit. She puts on the stethoscope, with her Doctors’ kit on the table, and make me pretend like a patient. She’d so much like to be a Doctor. And this kit makes her believe she is one. And she’d so much like to be a princess (thanks to Disney!) and she’s got all those kits that make her believe she’s one – and that makes me feel like a King, obviously! 🙂

I also remember my school days – when I felt I was Maradona (you know the times I’m talking about now) whenever I’d put on my football shoes…

The other day I heard one of the leads in a project say – “Hey, I’m into Project Management now. Just got my MS Project installed.” I couldn’t help but chuckle, and gave him a nice little ‘Hello Mr. PM’ lift.

And so often I hear people say – we’ve got the BPMS installed. We’re serious about doing BPM, and we’re doing a lot of it now!!! Well, think again! Getting a tool installed or just possessing a kit is not equivalent to practicing a discipline. And BPM is one – discipline, not kit! There’s much more to BPM than tools.

And I actually wonder why it is so hard to get this straight!!! My daughter knows very well she’s not actually a Doctor and is just playing with a kit. Can we stop playing with these investments in BPM(S) and actually practice BPM? When tools become everything – it’s not business, it’s child’s play.


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  1. #1 by Abhinav on May 3, 2010 - 4:19 am

    Very True! Tools by definition are “anything used as a means of accomplishing a task or purpose” and hence can never be the end in themselves!
    I guess this is where we business consultants pitch in: to identify the real problem, identify the solution and help choose the tool to execute that solution..:):)

  2. #2 by Andrew Smith @onedegree on May 26, 2010 - 2:52 pm

    How very true…However, I feel that tools are focused on by vendors not because of how good they are to help organisations practice BPM, but by how well they demonstrate or give a “wow” factor to high up management decision makers who will never actually use the software or really engage in BPM in the first place….

    Its a trap many vendors fall and have fallen into and one which amazes me just how many businesses then fall for…

    • #3 by Ashish Bhagwat on May 26, 2010 - 4:15 pm

      Surely. Tools and Technologies are just one aspect of BPM. Read my other post on BPM definition and it’s state – http://wp.me/pN8i1-4G.

      The problem starts when Tools become synonymous with the concept, and the strengths & limitations of tools start defining the boundaries around methods as well.

      We’re having another interesting debate on Lean and whether it is dead on eBizQ here – http://www.ebizq.net/blogs/ebizq_forum/2010/05/is-this-the-end-of-lean.php.

      Taking a similar stand, I would argue that certain principles and objectives still apply, the technology and tools (sometimes brilliant and sometimes outdated and crude) start defining the strengths and limitations of the discipline there as well. And that would not be doing justice to some of the great principles that actually still apply on the ground – with some tweaking with the current times.

  3. #4 by chris lockhart on June 7, 2010 - 9:10 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. with both the tools and the daughter princess kits.

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