Beginning with the End Tactics In Mind? Or the Goals?

It is wrong. But most improvement methodologies begin with their means in mind.

Lean efforts will use streamlining methods to produce revamped processes stripped of unnecessary tasks and delays. Six Sigma efforts will use statistical variation reduction methods in the product producing processes. Organizational Development efforts will use behavioral science, group dynamics, assessment of strategy deployment and goal alignment methods to improve the effectiveness of the enterprise leadership, management and individual contributors. Education and training efforts will use Instructional Systems Design methods to produce awareness-knowledge-skills building content. Etc. Etc.

Almost all recognize the interrelationships of the other performance factors that the other methods address, but few have their integration and collaboration requirements built in from their git-go.

Warning: If your improvement efforts are not targeting strategically significant ROI, then perhaps the following is overkill indeed. But then why are you bothering with improvement? Allocating limited enterprise resources for marginal returns is most likely not in the best interests of your shareholders and other stakeholders.

If your improvement strategy is to improve everything everywhere without regard to strategic impact and ROI you should stop reading right now. This is not for you.

Targeting Enterprise Process Performance Improvement

Stage 1 of EPPI – Targeting Enterprise Process Performance Improvement efforts hold off on solution declarations until all probable causes for current gaps from ideal, or future gaps that can be anticipated are identified, verified and sized…and their solution-sets identified, verified and sized…and potential ROI established for eliminating and/or resolving the current and/or anticipated gaps.

EPPI Stage 1 and 2

A key model is our adaptation and extension of the Ishikawa Diagram, also known as the Fishbone or Cause & Effect Diagram.

Ishikawa Diagram

Our version has been adapted and extended on the left by viewing a process as part of an “owner’s” functional system within a configuration of departments, functions and business units of the enterprise. It has been adapted and extended on the right by re-organizing the variables into two main branches of Human Assets and Environmental Assets and exploding those another layer.

The model is intended to highlight the three key variables of process performance.


  • The process itself with it’s upstream inputs and suppliers, and downstream output receivers; and its results relative to the strategic drivers and stakeholder requirements
  • The enabling human assets are the awareness, knowledge, skills, physical attributes, psychological attributes, intellectual attributes and personal values that they bring to the process
  • The enabling environmental assets supply the process and the human assets with enablers such as the data/information, materials/supplies, tools/equipment, financial resources, facilities/grounds, and the culture/consequences

EPPI Fishbone v2012 - 1- The Process

The Process Itself 

The process itself is a component of a larger, complex Value Chain. The process and its some of its upstream Value Chain processes may need to be mapped and/or modeled for improvement purposes.

The process and its Value Chain have many stakeholders for the enterprise processes…stakeholders with potentially complex and perhaps conflicting requirements (needs) and desires (wants).

Many process improvement methods exist. And many traditional enterprise functions “house” the experts representing those methods. For example Marketing may house the upfront expertise portions of Quality Function Deployment for determining customer needs and wants, while Design and Manufacturing Engineering may house the backend expertise portions of product and process design. In the middle they may share analysis of the competitors’ offerings and processes. Their need to collaborate is critical.

And many other functional players are required to play nicely with each other in any number of “functional-owner’s” processes. Engineering may support the Materials function’s processes for certifying vendors’ product and processes’ quality assurance programs, etc.

The Enabling Human Assets

Don Tosti has written in his February 2006 BPTrends White Paper that:

Every organization is a human performance system:
• It was founded by people.
• It’s run by people, and
• It’s established to provide value to the people who are its customers/stakeholders.

Agreed. Without the human element there is nothing. No customer. No requirements. No process to produce outputs to meet those requirements. No suppliers to provide process inputs. No one to care one way or another.

The human elements’ knowledge/skills, attributes and values either enable or prohibit their peak performance in specifying or capturing the requirements and desires of the customers, designing the products and processes to meet those requirements and desires better than the competition, producing or acquiring the process inputs necessary, and performing within the processes to produce and deliver the outputs downstream to internal or external customers in the Value Chain.

And while not all knowledge/skills, attributes and value variables of the performers are equal in terms of their probable impact on their processes performance, they must be known in order to assess the leverage potential of the critical few from the important many.

Therefore I must take slight exception to Paul Harmon’s statement in his July 18, 2006 BPTrends Email Advisor regarding the need (or not) for detailed mapping and modeling of processes:

Keep in mind, the goal isn’t to model everything, but only to create such models as are needed by business people or IT folks to accomplish their daily tasks. We analyze to see if we can determine how to perform the process better, or to specify what needs to be automated. We usually don’t need to try to analyze how a loan negotiator carries out each step of the negotiation.

Not true for the HR folks, including the training staff concerned with performance-based training or legal staff concerned with compliance. Nor for the IT folks who are attempting to assess the potential for automating the potentially routine elements of that type of negotiation.

But occasionally true; especially if that process performance isn’t routine at all and is highly situational and inter-personal relationship dependant. Or – if there are bigger improvement fish to fry.

And regarding the generic human competencies in prevalent use today – they will never get anyone to peak performance!

They may make it easier to assess and compensate people; but easier isn’t often better let alone adequate…especially for the most critical of your processes and performers. Use them for the masses if you must, but not for the people in the key performer roles in your critical-few processes.

The Enabling Environmental Assets

The EPPI analysis and design framework is used to determine the specific “items” in each category and sub-categories for all of the necessary enablers of those critical process performances targeted. Then gaps or inconsistencies in their quality, availability or costs can be identified.

Once any deficiencies in the necessary environmental asset enablers are determined for the current state, or anticipated for some future state, the impact to process performance can be assessed, and the cost for addressing the issues can be better estimated, enabling the enterprise to better forecast the probable “R” (return) for the “I” (investment).

Targeting EPPI Tier Views

The EPPI Tier Views are intended to systematically map the enterprise processes and target improvement efforts with a clear understanding of all potential impacts to other enterprise systems and processes. The three Targeting EPPI Tier Views are

Tier 1. Map the appropriate enterprise systems/processes to target Tier 2 View analysis efforts

Tier 2. Map the processes and model the performance to target Tier 3 View analysis efforts

Tier 3. Derive the required human and environmental enablers to determine gaps, leverage potential and ROI, and target EPPI Stage 2 improvement efforts as appropriate

Tier 1 View – The Enterprise Map

This is where the enterprise’s organizational systems and processes are mapped by the “functional owner” to target improvement areas.

EPPI Tier 1 View

This mapping could be driven by a review of a balanced scorecard’s current or future trend results for the business’s key strategic and/or operational metrics that have been deemed unacceptable or have been determined as candidates for improvement due to benchmarking efforts.

All targeted enterprise processes and their upstream supplier processes, as appropriate to the goals for mapping, are mapped into their “home” functions and systems that are categorized as: leadership, core, or support (L-C-S).

This step is akin to first creating and then reviewing a schematic in a troubleshooting routine to determine the probable cause for an electrical short. This effort concludes when the probable targets for the enterprise’s problems’ root causes are determined and targeted. Those targets are addressed in the next Tier Views created.

Tier 2 View – Process Performance

In the EPPI Tier 2 view, those targeted functional systems and processes for the probable root causes are both process mapped and performance modeled. This level of process map and/or performance model detail is needed to target where in the current, status quo system/processes, the Tier 3 Views should be created.

EPPI Tier 2 View

The Performance Model, covered in numerous BPTrends columns of mine prior to this, enables an articulation of ideal performance of the current state by current Master Performers versus an average of all performers. And it facilitates a “gap analysis” of the current state. Why can’t/aren’t all performers performing to the levels currently demonstrated by the Master Performers?

If used for a future state, the Performance Modeling exercise brings the current Master Performers together with various Subject Matter Experts to paint a picture of the future, as best they can foresee it. And then collaboratively, critically, proactively challenge that possible future state, using the gap analysis effort, to anticipate the potential process performance issues that that future state might hold.

It’s not perfect, without defect. But what crystal ball future-fortune telling methods are?

Tier 3 View – Process Performance Enablers

This is where all of the necessary enablers for those process performances are both determined and assessed. EPPI categorizes all enablers including human assets and environmental assets.

EPPI Tier 3 View

Once any deficiencies in the quality, quantity and costs of the necessary enablers are determined, the impact to process performance for addressing those can be determined. Those upstream or peripheral provisioning organizations involved might also require improvement efforts. The total R (return) can then be more accurately calculated for the total I (investment) that will be required. Not the total return for the partial investment, as too often is the case.

Again, the concepts, models, tools, and techniques for creating these three Tier Views are used in each of the four phases of Targeting EPPI.

Opening Post Summary

The terminal objective for the T&D/Learning/ Knowledge Management systems and processes and staff and hardware/software is to return much more to the bottom line than the investment costs it took away from other opportunities.

Not to acquire content. Or to deploy that content in as many and varied manners as possible.

My goal here is to discuss the pursuit of performance leveraging the human assets by leveraging the HAMS – the Human Asset Management Systems…aka: Human Capital Systems or Talent Management, among other labels. My use of HAMS goes back to publications in the late 1980s.


The intention is the same. Or should be.

Enterprise Process Performance Improvement to protect and improve the Enterprise.


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Note: some new graphics were added in 2013.

One comment on “Beginning with the End Tactics In Mind? Or the Goals?

  1. Pingback: Blog Post 2222 | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

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