Why PLM platform need to support inefficient organizational rituals?

Why PLM platform need to support inefficient organizational rituals?


Change management and PLM implementations are hard. You can check some of my earlier blogs to catch up on the topic.  – PLM implementation and organizational change and PLM and death spiral of cultural change. I also recommend you to check Jos Voksuil’s articles – Our brain blocks PLM acceptance and PLM and blockers. Organizational change is part of business process improvement and it can turn PLM projects into a complete nightmare.

I’ve been catching up on news and read articles during my flight to Detroit to attend CIMdata PLM roadmap for automotive and supply chain. The following article – Why getting rid of inefficient processes in the organization is so hard. Anthropology explains it by Leonardo Herrero – Architect of Organizations caught my special attention.

So, according to Leonardo Herrero, anthropology can easy explain everything that happens in an organization when it comes to process improvement. Here is catch 22…

Most inefficient processes that stay in place in defiance of logic, and that seem to be resistant to modification, may be so stable because they are very effective. At something else, that is. Their efficiency as processes may be low and frustrating, but they may be very effective as rituals.

It made me think that PLM implementations are typically coming to organizations as process improvement and completely missing the ritual thing. And it can put organization in a death spiral of changes, because it will try to remove organizational alpha-male and alpha-female space for rituals, with the programmable logic of PLM workflows.

In ritual terms, that needs time and space. In process-efficiency times, you could cut the whole thing easily by 50%. But if you did, you would eliminate part of the glue: people defending positions, playing their personal power-capital, testing each other, protecting the turf, enjoying deep and rational discussions (‘hard work’), establishing alliances, protecting against the enemy, performing, including some, excluding others, etc. And suppressing these would be a big problem in the absence of another platform in which all those games of power and inclusiveness could take place. Eliminating the campfire without an alternative does not sound as a good idea.

What is my conclusion? PLM strategist and architects should think how to bring a replacement to inefficient process rituals. There is a lot of things we can learn from social network experience of the last decade. In my view, the success of some social networks is directly related to support of some fundamental social rituals. So we should do for future PLM platforms. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of openBoM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.



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