Down Under: BPM is ALL about People Change Management

The development of business processes involve both people and technology to execute. It is our belief and experience that the people change management or organizational change management aspects of business process development consume in excess of 60 percent of a BPM program effort.

Unless the people (all stakeholders, both internal and external) are fully engaged and enthusiastic then your BPM implementation will be significantly more difficult and have a higher risk factor.

So how do you get ready for the changes that will be coming?

Simplistically, getting ready for change falls into two categories:

  • Creating an environment that will allow and encourage people to change.
  • Ensure that there is consultation and feedback regarding the change program.

Create an environment

There are essentially three broad components involved in creating the environment that allows people to change: trust, caring and ownership.

Trust is critical. People must feel they can trust their leaders and the environment within which they function, at all levels within the organization. They must believe that leaders are honest with them, have high levels of integrity and are reliable and open. People must believe that they can ask any question and get an honest answer. Table 1 shows a number of actions that do and do not fulfill these criteria. The criticality of trust is also discussed later in this Column.

Table 1

Table 1.
Trust builders and busters (Hriegel and Brandt, 1996: 161–169)

Caring is about respect and empathy for others. It is about acknowledging and thanking people for their contribution and effort. Respect includes many of the trust builders mentioned in table 1. People will feel they have respect from leaders when the leaders always tell the truth, keep their word and respect each other.

Ownership is about providing people with as much control over their own destiny as is possible. It is about empowering people with information that will allow them to be responsible for their own decisions and actions, and to be held accountable for them.

To encourage ownership clarify expectations (what the organization expects from its people) and responsibility (how the organization expects its people to be responsible in their actions and behavior) – don't delegate, elevate. Provide a sense of ownership by providing people with access to feedback before the boss gets it, thus allowing people to make corrections themselves before the boss provides the feedback.

Criticality of trust

In a very real sense, the level of trust is a thermometer of individual and group (organization) health. With trust, we all function naturally and directly.

The research and findings of neuroeconomists1 are causing other economists to rethink theories that have been based on the assumptions that people act in pure self-interest. Zak discovered that our brains are wired to guide us towards both socially and individually beneficial behavior and that this motivation to cooperate happens on an unconscious level2.

“Trust is among the strongest known predictors of a country's wealth; nations with low levels tend to be poor. Our model showed that societies with low levels are poor because the inhabitants undertake too few of the long-term investments that create jobs and raise incomes. Such investments depend on mutual trust that both parties will fulfill their contractual obligations”.3

Figure 1 shows the results, by country, of the answer to a simple question: “Do you think most people can be trusted?”

Figure 1

Figure 1 – National trust: trust level by country4

Why should we be concerned about trust at a cultural level? It turns out that the standard of living in a country is directly related to the degree to which people in the country trust each other. That is, wealth is correlated to the trust levels. Why? Because when trust levels are high, financial transactions costs are low and efficient – there is no need for elaborate contracts to protect the parties involved. Whereas, in low trust environments, elaborate, inefficient means are necessary to protect the parties, making transaction costs high.

Personal income will rise 1% for every 15% increase in the proportion of people in the country who think others are trustworthy; the reverse is also true. Trust begets trust; fear escalates fear.

The national or country relationship with trust translates to individuals and organizations. So trust within an organization plays a critical role and an organization comprises a group of individuals. Trust beginning with each of us. Think about this next time you interact with another person.

Trust is essential in all our interpersonal relationships. Maister5, in The Trusted Advisor, suggests that the Trust Equation is made up of the four components shown in figure 2.

Figure 2

Figure 2 – The Trust Equation

Some of the behaviors and traits to be considered within each of these components are:


  • Be honest and authentic; no lies – not even a hint of a lie
  • Speak with confidence and expression
  • Be prepared; say when you don't know


  • Do what you say you will
  • Link words with deeds and intention with action
  • Honor all commitments
  • Set clear goals and meet them
  • Announce changes early


  • Be the first to open up
  • Share emotions
  • Establish clear and safe boundaries
  • Connect with people at many levels
  • Be yourself


  • “It's all about me” mindset
  • Not listening
  • Take over conversations
  • Have to have last word
  • Can't say “I don't know”

So to return to our initial point, in our experience the people change management or organizational change management aspects are 60 percent plus of a BPM program effort.

Involve all stakeholders as much as is possible within your BPM programs. They will be the ones who will make it work, not the project team.


1Zak, Paul. J., The Neurobiology of Trust, Scientific American, June 2008
2Somehow this little chemical (oxytocins) is not only telling us what’s good for society, be cooperative, trust other people, allowing us to live in big cities, it also tells you what’s good for you as an individual. (Zak in Horstman, M. 2005. Catalyst: Trust – ABC TV Science, ABC Online, 1481749.htm
3Zak, et al, p.88
4Zak, et al, p.95
5Maister,D, Green,C H, Galford, R M, The Trusted Advisor,2001

John Jeston & Gina Craig

John Jeston & Gina Craig

John has serious experience getting things done—the right way. For over 30 years he has covered Business Process Management (BPM), business process re-engineering, project management, systems development, outsourcing, and general management. He has held the positions of Financial Controller, Divisional Manager, Company Director, HR Director and Chief Information Officer. John is internationally recognised as a key opinion leader in BPM strategy and implementation. He has provided these services to significant organisations throughout Australia, Europe, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, the United Kingdom, U.S.A., Singapore, Mexico and Brazil. He has authored a number of books and more than 20 articles on BPM and high performance management. He is a regular speaker at conferences and a Master Project Director, with the Australian Institute of Project Management and is a Chartered Accountant. John has authored or co-authored: Business Process Management: Practical Guidelines to Successful Implementations (2006 and 2008), Management by Process: A Roadmap to Sustainable Business Process Management (2008)—the only book to provide a roadmap to sustainable BPM and High Performance Management, and Beyond Business Process Improvement, On To Business Transformation (2009). He also writes a regular Column in the international BP Trends Monthly Update. He can be reached at Gina has 30 years experience as an adult teacher, trainer, facilitator, designer of training courses, writer and senior manager. Gina has provided these services to the higher education sector, private enterprise and large and complex government agencies. Gina has proven expertise in the creation of, and transformation to, an extremely large and complex shared services environment. She then demonstrated that the new entity was designed and structured correctly by successfully managing the largest team within that entity. She also leaned the processes within the entity to find work and workforce efficiencies. Gina has also been a lecturer and tutor with University of New South Wales, Australia where she lectured and tutored economics, calculus, statistics and accounting; managed and supported a Learning Management System and Learner Content Management System; lead and managed large teams of 100 plus staff; and managed numerous projects some of which resulted in $10’sm in savings. Gina's consulting, communication and relationship skills enable her to successfully manage and mentor individuals and teams.

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