Change Management #6 – Processes: Two tips for refereeing business rule changes

by Gary Monti on March 2, 2010

Ever wonder who is in charge when you repeatedly try to change business rules and nothing happens? It can be maddening! You call the meeting, everyone agrees to make the change and then nothing happens. It feels like Sisyphus rolling that huge rock up the organizational hill only to have it roll back down again and again and…

The solution has two components – what to do and how to do it. The “what to do” comprises integration of three sets of business principles. The “how to do it”  balances all the solutions from the previous five posts in this Change Management Series.

What To Do: Align Business Principles

Three sets of business principles are tiered and integrated. They include:

  • Business Modeling describing the rationale of how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value in a holistic manner.
  • Business Process Management aligning all aspects of an organization with the wants and needs of clients. Specifically, integrating the business rulesets (see below) from the various disciplines.
  • Business Rules and Rulesets include the individual rules defining or constraining some aspect of the business and the rulesets that are a collection of individual business rules focusing on the same business activity across the organization.

For example, an outsourcing approach (business model) is chosen for a particular project. The management of vendors will involve both engineering and purchasing. The interplay between engineering, purchasing, and the vendor must be defined (business process management). Success lies in the detailed management of the situation.  Engineering and purchasing must combine their criteria (business rules) into a cohesive set (Business Ruleset) keeping the vendor consistently focused on providing value.

Notice how when we get to the most detailed level, Business Rules and Rulesets, they circle back to the most strategic level, Business Modeling. Let’s put that to use in determining “How To”.

How To Do It: Changing The Business Rules

Performance on this project is akin to mud wrestling! At one moment it feels like there’s a grasp on the situation and then the next moment – whoops – either stance, grip or both are lost.

The solution is learning how to referee and let the people in your organization produce the results. Specifically, take the recommendations in the previous 5 posts and perform them in the reverse order.

To produce a sustainable, stable set of business rules and processes focus on quality and risk as mentioned in the fifth post, “Projects: Three Tips to Avoid Creating Frankenstein”.

Is it easy? No. You are dealing with human nature. Use the solutions from the fourth post, “People: Building a Team with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” to gauge the limits of people and resources available, decide on trade-offs, and finalize goals.

If technology is part of the process implementation remember the remedies in the third post, “Technology: Too Good To Be True…Two Deadly Misconceptions and Their Remedies

Keeping the project from becoming a chaotic mess requires a balance between letting people “go at it” and settling down to build some results. Act as described in the second post, Morphing Organizations: The Executive Samurai and Complexity Theory

Finally, you must be unshakable Do this by knowing your goals, values and beliefs. It sets the context. Lead the way as described in the first post Leadership: Navigating With an Executive Map and Compass

All this is done for one simple reason: to present something of value to the customer. In the seventh and final post of this series we will look at the product.

If this has been beneficial, if you have any comments, or just find this as fascinating as I do then send me an e-mail at or visit

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