The Religion and Martial Arts of Business Process

25th August 2016

The Success and Failure of an Entrepreneur, Manager, CEO and a Company lies in the lack of or the knowledge of what business process is all about. But first, what is Business Process?

According to Wikipedia, Business Process is a collection of related, structured activities or tasks that produce a specific service or product (serve a particular goal) for a particular customer or customers. It may often be visualized as a flowchart of a sequence of activities with interweaving decision points or as a Process Matrix of a sequence of activities with relevance rules based on data in the process.

Sounds complicated right? It may sound like mumbo jumbo but everybody in the business world is using some form of Business Process. From the Tier 1 or Administrative Staff just hired last week and undergoing training, to the Manager who meticulously files all reports and evaluation of an employee, to CEO and Directors having their mancom meeting, that Baker who maintains his generations old recipe that keeps people coming back, to the customer who enjoys his hot fresh bread on a chilly Monday morning. All these are under the huge matrix we call Business Process.

The Discipline

Religion and Martial Arts are both human disciplines that work almost the same. Anybody practicing a religion, whether Christianity, Islam, Hindu, Buddhism would have certain rituals, time of prayers, a belief system or ideologies that they would follow and practice every day, throughout their lives. The same with Martial arts, whether you practice Karate, Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, Taekwondo or MMA, you are training a certain discipline, routine, kicks and punches, stances and guards and strategies repetitively to master and execute well enough to equip you in life and this hones a disciple’s character, attitude and well-being as a person.

Being a Christian, reading the Bible, is not a one-read-wonder, you have to read texts and verses all through your life and apply the ideologies and laws of Christ. Muslims are required to pray 5 times a day, facing a certain direction on a specified posture or manner. A person’s development, failure and success depend on the consistency and faith on his discipline.

Can any business operation be considered Business Process? Yes, in the literal meaning of the term, but also no. Why No? With the advent of the internet, globalization and outsourcing, the knowledge transfer and sharing has been exchanged in the entire world that the best practices of multinationals is being shared to SMEs and Startups. A higher quality of management is being shared to almost everybody that the term Business Process is now synonymous to workflow, management ideologies, business consistency and these do not only aim for success, but rather the stability and consistency of Success. This separates companies that run for generations compared to those who just lasted a couple of years or a person who blames the economy, environment and even his wife for the failure of his business.

The Masters

Have you heard of companies like Colgate Palmolive, General Electric, DuPont, Pfizer, Coca-cola or even IBM? Of course we all have. These are companies that have existed for more than 100 years now and will most likely exist for quite some time to come. There are companies who have existed more than 200 years and based on worldwide statistics, Japan has the highest number of the oldest companies in existence at 3,146, the oldest being a construction company, Kongo Gumi, founded in 578 AD. Next on the list are 3 more Japanese Hotels founded between 705 – 718 AD. More than a thousand years of existence. And the daunting question is, how did they maintain and continue doing business when most of these corporation’s founders already passed away a long time ago? What was passed down that the business continues and survives through generations?

Steve Jobs was not a good manager, so bad that in 1985 he was ousted out of the company he founded in 1976. We already know the story of his passion and dedication that led him back to his company in 1997. He learned much on that setback that when got back and righted the company from its chaotic status during that time, we would take the “Top 100” of his people and go for a retreat each year. At the last day, we would gather them all with a whiteboard in tow and ask them “What are the 10 things we should be doing next?”

For the Japanese, Konosuke Matsushita founder of the largest consumer electronics company Panasonic is considered in Japan the “God of Management”. In 1933, in the midst of the depression era, he created the 7 Guiding Principles. These principles are such powerful statement that has been part of the japanese business culture, and have been renamed the “Seven Spirits of Matsushita”.

Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin knew on 2004 when their company went public that they cannot lead the company, they needed the help of Excite’s CEO Eric Schmidt to lead the company and it took 7 years of discipleship, a journey of learning and gaining experience, before Larry Page took the lead as the CEO.

To manage and lead a company effectively and make the business process flow smoothly, everybody should learn how to get inspirations from the companies and individuals who had reached success. It maybe from the person who failed and get back to be a better manager, from a person who led his people, company and his country under a moral value and principle of conducting business or the person who has to humble himself and be mentored before leading his own company.

Business Process is a nonstop cycle of learning, planning, documentation, implementation and analysis. When it fails you just don’t stop and consider yourself as a failure but rather identify the mistakes and go back to the cycle.

The Discipline

When I was working with IBM, Innovation and Dedication was the battle cry of all. The moment you stepped in and signed your work contract the business ideologies that faciliated IBM to exist for more than 100 years are ingrained, you are influenced in a global kind of way. These mindsets of innovation, dedication, legacy and passion for success are part of your 6-week training that once you sit on your desk all you wanted to do is perform, achieve and learn more.

We are mandated to attend training sessions which are paid by the company and considered to be a paid working day. The company pays the seminar/workshop and its facilitators and then pays you to acquire new knowledge and develop you as a person and crossing its fingers that you will implement what you learn, hoping that this will benefit the company and your colleagues. "IBMer's" are required to certify in Six Sigma within the first year of working with the company along with a number of seminars which will be part of your yearly evaluation, which in turn will influence your salary increase and your career.

Venturing outside the company and bringing all the knowledge and discipline led me to consultancy jobs and in a couple of years founded my own outsourcing firm providing business solutions to companies and businesses who needed to survive, expand, develop and work hand in hand and aim for their business’ success. The goal of my company comes back to my IBM influence of putting “Dedication to the Client’s Success”.

The Practitioner

In the corporate world, positions like Business Process Managers, Total Quality Managers and Risk Managers are the elite positions, sought after like a dream as their purpose and responsibility gives a strong backbone of a company. In an army unit they are like your Special Forces or Seal Team Six, if you are a Tom Clancy fan, they are your Rainbow Six, that will swoop in for special missions and get the job done. They are the ones who help the company get an ISO certification, change the workflow of a department, continuously evaluate if the existing operational process is effective or needs improvement or are the ones who create solutions to possible problems that may occur which can minimize a company’s loss right before it happens.

They are the ones that have Green and Black Belt on Six Sigma on their CVs and their salary package is double to triple compared to a normal operations manager. If these terms are jargon or are never-heard-of terms to you, then it is the right time to learn about Business Process and what it can do for your career, business and life.

The Walk

Business Process, like any religion or martial art, practice of a repetitive form of action consistently will consistently deliver results. That you cannot go up a higher level unless you have completed your training, implemented what you've learned through sparring or tournaments, proving yourself effective until you achieve the highest belt or position and pass these teachings on, mentoring others from disciple into masters.

There is a continuous process of learning, implementing, measurement and evaluation and in time should be passed down to your subordinates to create effective and performance-driven employees that soon will be like you, continuously passing down these business process traditions that create the future of the company.

This article is a 3-Part series in understanding what Business Process is all about and how this can help your team, department, organization or business. This can be a guide to evaluate whether a manager or a company is aligned and operating based on its purpose and goals, or a self-check to ensure you haven't stumbled along the way and need to retrace your steps.

Get in Touch Here to find out how we can help your Business Process

Raemin Reyes

Managing Partner of Blueport Business Outsourcing. Writer, Rugby Player, Motorcycling Enthusiast, Business Solutions Adviser and a Chef wannabe. Raemin worked with Fortune 500 companies namely IBM and Analog Devices before starting his own company with offices in the Philippines and in London, UK with the aim of providing outsourcing services and business solutions to SMEs and Startups throughout the globe. He spends his free time riding the countryside with his trusty Royal Enfield motorycle along with his lovely wife Charlotte.