Stifling corporates

A few weeks ago, the managing director and I had a meeting with the South African innovation manager of a major international food manufacturer based in north America.

My managing director has a gift of being able to identify quickly the essential issues that a prospective customer has, and this often enables us to have meaningful conversations early on in a discussion. In this instance we were getting along very well and discussing some really interesting challenges and possible solutions, when the IT manager was invited into the meeting. Within minutes his attitude towards any kind of solution killed the atmosphere.

He pointed out how every subsidiary had to comply with the rules laid down for IT projects by head office. Listening to the bureaucratic process that they had to follow, I was struck by how a good intention – preventing project and software proliferation – had served to obstruct a manager from making his department more productive, and effectively stifled any type of creativity or process innovation.

It also made me appreciate how fortunate we are as a company to deal with owner/manager companies in the medium-size business market. We had meetings this week with MDs and FDs (managing and financial directors) of building and construction organisations. In the space of a single meeting with some of them, we went from an initial discovery session to the directors making decisions about preliminary work we could deliver. They were able to identify the problems, debate and evaluate options, and decide on a course of action to introduce new or improved processes without having to go through a laborious approval process.

Vinnie has coined the term “business process angioplasty”, which is his way of showing how processes should be improved. The food company needs to do some business process angioplasty on its IT adoption process.

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