Enabling Operational Excellence
Enabling Operational Excellence
Enabling Operational Excellence
Enabling Operational Excellence

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Posts Tagged ‘governance process’

The Governance Process Is What It Is – And That’s Way More Than Meta!

It’s a shame to have to resort to a ‘meta’ discussion to have what should be a direct conversation about governance process(es). After all, what’s more fundamental to an organization than those?! Does the BPM space ‘get’ it? Recent discussion in social media makes me doubt it. So back to ‘meta’ we go.[1] Here’s a recent wrong-headed post in social media that got my attention.

“I don’t see the appropriateness of labeling governance processes (e.g., business planning process, inventory policy process) as ‘meta’. They’re on a par with all the other business processes (i.e., request for proposal process, hiring process, product commercialization process, etc.). The process management process, on the other hand, is a meta process in that it stands above every one of the other processes, both governance and non-governance.”

My goodness! The process management process stands above governance processes? In what conceivable universe?! From a business perspective something is fundamentally flawed about a BPM approach that fails to recognize governance processes as above all others. Let’s think about it a bit. Some definitions …
  • I define ‘governance process’ as ‘process that governs other processes’. It’s ‘meta’ because both subject and predicate are the same kind of thing. (Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary 3b.)
  • I define ‘meta-process’ as ‘process that transforms other processes’. Since ‘governs’ is a specialization of ‘transforms’, that makes governance process a specialization of meta-process. I recognize there can be other kinds (specializations) of meta-process.
In other words there is a governance variety of meta-process that is the class of all processes that govern other processes. One example or instance of that class is THE governance process (singular) that governs the organization as a whole.

Aside: I can’t believe I had to prove in theory that an organization has a governance process!

To take the analysis further, you could specialize governance meta-process beyond THE governance process (singular) for an organization as a whole to suit governance of individual business areas or processes. The results (outputs) of all other specializations, however, should be consistent with the results (outputs) of THE governance process (singular). That’s a fancy way of saying you want to ensure business alignment. In social media, I wanted to initiate a discussion of what form the results (outputs) from all governance processes should take. If you want to talk about process improvement for governance processes, wouldn’t that be a foremost question?! No luck. These BPM participants wouldn’t go there. It leads me to believe they don’t really ‘get’ that governance is always about setting business policies. Indeed, if you want to improve the governance process sooner or later you’ll have to come to grips with business rules. Instead, they seemed satisfied to conclude the conversation with simply “a process is a process is a process”. I’m afraid not! ~~~~~~~~ www.BRSolutions.com

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Metaprocess vs. Governance Process

Mark Linehan commented[1]: Well-run businesses have a formal governance process: a business process for managing changes to other business processes. Defined this way, a governance process is a metaprocess. My reply: There is a governance process in every organization, whether well-run or not. Unfortunately it’s often unstructured and ad hoc. In any case, governance is about “the making and administration of [business] policy in [an organization]”[2]. Yes, the business policies can certainly have the effect of changing (transforming) other organizational processes. But that’s indirect. So I think calling a ‘governance process’ meta- is a bit tenuous.


[1] This series of point/counterpoint replies is a follow-up to my post “Meta Here. Meta There. Meta Everywhere?” (March 31, 2014), which generated a surprising amount of great discussion. (Thanks all!) Refer to: http://www.brsolutions.com/2014/03/31/meta-here-meta-there-meta-everywhere/ The definition I’m using for meta- is from Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary [3b]:

3b: of a higher logical type – in nouns formed from names of disciplines and designating new but related disciplines such as can deal critically with the nature, structure, or behavior of the original ones *metalanguage* *metatheory* *metasystem* 

[2]from Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary [“govern” 1a]

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The Terms of Governance

You can find definitions and discussion of all terms in blue on Business Rule Community: http://www.brcommunity.com/BBSGlossary.pdf ~~~~~~~~ 1. Business Governance We define business governance as follows: 

a  process, organizational function, set of techniques, and systematic approach for creating and deploying business policies and business rules into day-to-day business activity

Our definition is based on Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary [MWUD] definitionsfor governance 1, 2a, 4a, and 5. Why should any divergent definition be created?

1: the act or process of governing

2a : the office, power, or function of governing

4a: the manner or method of governing : conduct of office

5: a system of governing

And have a look at the MWUD definition of govern [1a]: 

to exercise arbitrarily or by established rules continuous sovereign authority over; especially:  to control and direct the making and administration of policy in. 

Note the high-profile roles of rules and policies in that definition.  ‘Governing’ a business involves coordinating how business policies and business rules are created (the making … of) and deployed (managed, distributed and monitored) within day-to-day business operations (administration).  Clearly, business governance and business rules are directly linked.  Why haven’t more people recognized the direct link between business governance and business rules?! 2. Governance Decision The original decision to create a business policy or business rule is an example of a governance decisionGovernance decisions should be part of a special business process, the governance process, which also coordinates deployment and retirement of business rules To support business governance you need a systematic approach, which is provided by a rulebook and general rulebook system (GRBS).  These tools also provide the traceability needed to support compliance. 3. Governance Process We define governance process as follows: 

a series of business actions and checkpoints indicating who should be doing what (business roles), and when, with respect to deploying business policy and business rules

That just follows naturally, doesn’t it? ~~~~~~~~~~~ Excerpted from Building Business Solutions: Business Analysis with Business Rules, by Ronald G. Ross with Gladys S.W. Lam, An IIBA® Sponsored Handbook, Business Rule Solutions, LLC, 2011, 304 pp, http://www.brsolutions.com/bbs

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