15 September 2009

Process Application

Most of the process advocates I've met recently have come from background like manufacturing and logistics. That makes a lot of sense - these are well-bounded, repeatable, concretely-defined disciplines. The problem is when we try to cut and paste successful manufacturing or logistics approaches onto other areas, like research & development or program management.

R&D is typically - and appropriately - an unbounded, unique, loosely-defined activity. That doesn't mean there are zero processes involved... just that the most significant parts of R&D are beyond the realm of process.

So, when I say that I'm a critic of the process-centric approach, what I'm really objecting to is the misapplication and the overapplication of these approaches.

I also want to point out that I'm not a skeptic of the utility of process-centric approaches in R&D and program management. I'm emphatically a critic. The term skeptic sounds like a person is unsure whether a thing will work or not. Not me - I'm not agnostic about this stuff. I've done my research, taken the classes, got the t-shirt, and came to a conclusion. I'm well beyond skepticism.

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