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Leveraging the Enterprise through Process Transformation
Thought Leadership Roundtable on Digital Strategies
September 27, 2005 - Minneapolis, MN
hosted by Cargill, Incorporated

CIOs and senior operations executives from 3M, Cargill, Cisco, Eaton, GM, Hasbro, IBM, Owens Corning, and Select Comfort were joined by academics from Tuck, Babson, Michigan, and Minnesota for this roundtable.

Press Release
PDF (83K)

PDF (94K)

List of Participants
PDF (73K)

Discussion Guide
PDF (122K)


Overview Article
PDF (125K)

Process transformation is quickly becoming a baseline requirement for operational excellence and competitiveness in the global marketplace. It is viewed as a way to enable collaboration and bring real focus to value-adding activities, and seems to touch many of the key drivers of corporate success: culture, strategy, structure, and innovation.

What are the keys to successful process transformation initiatives? What drives these initiatives and how do large enterprises get them started?

A broad discussion of participants' experiences and views yielded the following compelling insights (see the Overview Article for the complete report):

  1. Successful process transformations are rooted in a long-term strategy-based vision, and a clear "statement of need", rather than transitory crisis. While a "burning platform" may provide a convenient catalyst, process initiatives should be evolutionary, built around a cultural focus on learning and continuous improvement.

  2. Senior leaders must balance the desire for broad scope of change with the need for legitimate variety—look for commonality but don't overreach. Start by transforming one or two back office processes: if done right, they can actually enable greater business flexibility where it is most impactful.

  3. Clarity on accountability and decision-making authority are two keys to successful process transformation. Business units should be accountable from an execution standpoint, and management must provide decision enforcement and a balanced governance mechanism.

  4. Process transformation must have committed support and funding from top leadership to ensure company-wide acceptance. Senior leaders must clearly, believably demonstrate the business value to the company and its customers, and also address the implications for individual employees.

  5. Process change crosses organizational boundaries-like operations and IT-and requires partnerships across them to be successful. While staff functions have visibility across silos, and can contribute valuable expertise, they shouldn't try to tackle process initiatives alone

  6. People are key to process transformation, and selecting and empowering the right leaders and participants is crucial. Management must recruit and strongly support both subject matter experts and cross-functional change agents to spearhead and bring credibility to process initiatives.

  7. Transforming customer-facing processes is challenging and potentially risky. Enterprises must resolve a host of issues including how to best understand what different customer segments value, how to sell them the value proposition, and how to provide a high level of handholding.

Learn how to build strategic relationships between CIOs and HR execs - read key learnings from "Gaining Competitive Advantage through Human Resources Management."
Learn how to build strategic relationships between CIOs and senior finance execs - read key learnings from "Fueling Business Strategy through IT/Finance Alignment."