Oct 4, 2011

High Performance Operations book review

I had the pleasure and honor of receiving an advance copy of Hillel Glazer's book High Performance Operations for review. What follows is my unbiased opinion.

This book is bout an approach to make of compliance an actual competitive advantage through an integration of "cultural/psychological and interpersonal matters, service, and systems engineering". Hillel calls it Process Solutioneering. Hillel's writing style is very enjoyable and engaging.

As the title implies, the book focuses on compliance aspects that have to do with operations. Very important aspects that way too often affect organizations because of misconceptions on compliance are addressed here. For example, I recently had a customer who has a CMMI process that is making it take over a month of work on a task that requires less than one week of DB work and less than 30 min of coding in java. Hillel points this kind of situation as a common behavior because many companies do not count with compliance methods that scale to the work at hand. He also mentions bureaucracy, personal interests, operational complexity and other.

The core aspect of the book is it offers a set of patterns to keep compliance while at the same time also improving operational performance to gain competitive advantage.

The book begins with a motivation and an overview that provide a comprehensive fly-by of the entire book. Chapter four introduces the "how". 10 necessary factors that must exist in an organization to achieve excellence in high performance operations. Chapter 5 is about time, quality and money from the perspective of regulation and compliance and about mind setting. We should focus on guiding out thoughts and actions in the desired direction, not on thinking about avoidance of unwanted direction. Chapter 6 is about people and organizations focusing on compliance for the sake of status. Be it to show off or to get more contracts but not to really improve. It also talks about value streams and their economic impact at compliance level. Chapter 7 is about understanding the right purpose of compliance practices, which goes way beyond the verbatim application of the practices. On Chapter 8 Hillel introduces a 5-step-action "procedure to better understand the wisdom behind the practices stemming from compliance requirements". Chapter 9 is about value. this is a particularly attractive topic to me because it is focal to what my own business is about. HIllel's perspective is well-aligned in that it considers the business and customer facing value. Chapter 10 is a follow up of Chapter 9 on which he provides a guide to identify the operational system and explains the importance of performance management quantification to sustain value. My interpretation of chapters 11 to 15 is they are the set that covers Operational Excellence considering the systems engineering, service, and cultural/psychological and interpersonal matters. Chapters 16 to 18 are the wrap up. How to check the business performance and improvements, An integrated architecture that includes human factors and infrastructure. And what to expect when you do all this.

In conclusion. The book is not a technical masterpiece (it isn't intended to be so) nor a recipe to follow step-by-step. It is a combination of awareness booster and guidance to take as a foundation to modify the organization's behavior surrounding compliance.

I recommend this to all organizations that operate, or are considering to operate, under some sort of governance.

You can learn more about this topic at http://www.hillelglazer.com/

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