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Why Process Is Essential: James Pinkerton at TCS Daily

March 20, 2006


James Pinkerton writes, in the first installment of a two-part article at Tech Central Station’s TCS Daily, that we pay too much attention to policy and not enough to process.


He addresses process at a somewhat different level than we do — he’s interested in the processes by which policy is made, less interested in the processes that enable organizations to function effectively on a day-to-day basis.  But there is overlap:

…the topic of process is boring to many, but the consequences that flow from the failure of process are not boring at all. For example, if the once-obscure and back-burner-ish Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) fails at Hurricane Katrina relief, because it’s tangled up in turf issues inside the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) — well, that’s a front-burner, front-page issue…

Engaging in the mental effort of thinking about process does not require devotion to the status quo of inputs; instead, it requires a devotion to improved outputs. And if improving outcomes means re-engineering the entire system, so be it.

Agreed.  At the operational level, to establish resilience, it is not enough just to throw technology at an organizational challenge.  First, it’s necessary to analyze the way the organization functions — and the way it needs to function in order to fulfill its mission.  Technology can then be harnessed to an improved organizational plan.  Pinkerton — citing David Rothkopf’s Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Powerdiscusses at length the National Security Council model for policymaking .  The NSC, says Pinkerton, serves as a central clearinghouse that draws information from separate, siloed agencies and consolidates it so that it is actionable on a policymaking level. Rothkopf suggests the re-establishment of the National Economic Council to play a similar role in domestic policy.


At the functional level, an Enterprise Resilience Management solution works along similar lines.  It consolidates critical data from all the functions that protect an organization’s viability — security, compliance and performance management — and serves it to decision-makers in actionable form.  Initial focus on the organization’s goals — “outputs,” as Pinkerton would have it — leads toward a technology solution that breaks down silos, supporting the essential mission.


The second part of Pinkerton’s article will focus on implementation.  Should be extremely interesting.

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