Apes and Bonobos in Process Improvement


    Christopher Koch writes a very interesting blog entry about Apes and Bonobos. He compares Apes to IT people who hoard information, uncooperative, territorial and Bonobos, a slightly different species of Chimps that exhibit very helpful qualities around their tribe!

    Nothing could be truer than this in the case of business people trying to effect business process improvement within companies. In our experience we have run to companies where IT rules and the business people suffer. These are companies where the IT people seem to hold a hammer in their hand and every problem that business prople came to them with looks like a nail to them. So years and years are wasted and business people still do a lot of things manually with Excel spreadsheets. These companies are straight out of the movie, Officespace. (If you have not seen it yet, I highly recommend it. Just the scene where a frustrated office worker takes a computer printer out to the field and smashes it with a baseball bat when it spews out incomprehensible error messages is worth the time!) IT folks seem to be on their own planet fighting turf battles with business people who are trying to earn even the very dollar they get paid! 

    On the flip side, business people can be stupidly demanding, assuming that the data they need is readily available and every software feature takes about 2 minutes to implement! Not to talk about proliferation of many, many databases within the company and "multiple versions of truth."

    Many process improvement efforts suffer from a severe lack of good and comprehensive data on an on-going basis. Let’s say you have a high-priced Six Sigma effort that claims to have improved call center productivity by 30%. Two weeks from now, are you sure it is still 30%?

    Unless Apes and Bonobos figure out a way of working with each other, Process improvement efforts may die from a lack of verifiable data weeks and months later.

    Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. — Helen Keller