Thursday, September 14, 2006

Process design paper at EUROMA conference

With my colleague Steve New, I presented a paper at the EUROMA (European Operations Management) conference held in June in Strathclyde. With the title "On the Anonymity and Invisibility of Process Design"we argued that within the field of Operations Management (OM), the task of process design has suffered neglect in the development of Operations Management. Although there is extensive literature on product design and to a lesser extent the design of services, the designing of processes is neglected. We examined how process design remains an essentially invisible and anonymous activity and then presented a three-point manifesto for change. First, we argued that, rather than imagining a target audience of generic Operations Managers, the field of OM should focus on the education and research needs of a newly-founded profession of Process Designers. Secondly we argued that OM needs to understand how to design, not just follow, design processes, and the difference between user involvement and ‘implementation’. Thirdly we argued that great Process Designers should be famous, like architects or product designers.

To illustrate our ideas we brought along some imagined artefacts from this world in which Process Design is a visible and recognised discipline (will be uploaded soon). These included a private view invitation to the opening of a fictional call centre; a screen grab from the Saïd Business School's website with details of a fictional MA/MBA in Process Design, taught jointly with the Royal College of Art; front covers of imaginary magazines for professional process designers; fictional TV listings showing reality TV and documentary programmes engaging with Process Design issues; and finally, a fictional award for Process Designer of the Year - the Voss Award (named - with kind permission - after Professor Chris Voss of London Business School for his years of involvement in OM and research into experience and service design). During the presentation we asked the audience to nominate potential winners for the award and we presented, on this occasion, the Voss Award 2006 to the nominators.

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