You are here
Author Maxine Attong took her own advice and retooled
Author Maxine Attong adhered to the title of her own book, Change or Die, when she herself retooled.
The practical-minded Attong is matter-of-fact about change.
“If somebody takes over my job in three years, it frees me up to do something else. I can retool,” Attong said.
A certified management accountant, Attong has worked for 17 years in the oil and gas, service and manufacturing sectors. Currently, she’s assistant vice-president of corporate planning and implementation at Guardian General Insurance Ltd, Attong said, “Right now, thankfully, I don’t have to do any more accounting. I’ve spent the last five years retooling, educating myself formally.
“I did Terrence Metz’s course in Chicago. I will do what I need to do. I’ll take my holidays and do it. I won’t wait for an organisation to send me.”
“I met Metz (co-author) in 2008 when I went to do his FAST Facilitative Leadership Training Facilitation workshop. I have never met him physically since.
“At that meeting, we were asked: why do we want to learn facilitation?
“I shared that I wanted to write two books: a business process improvement book, and a facilitator’s guide to business process improvement project. In 2010 when I contacted him, we met via Skype most Tuesday evenings for about a year.”
Metz is not only the co-author of Change or Die: The Business Process Improvement Manual, but is also the founding principal partner of the Chicago-based Morgan Madison and Company.
Attong said a facilitation is a natural third party who leads a group using techniques and tools to make a decision they can live with. This is not to be confused with a facilitator who facilties a transaction, say, at the Licensing Office, or someone who conducts a training session.
The book took three years from beginning to production, but the actual writing took six months.
She said the publishers at CRC Press said the first draft was too thick and asked Attong and Metz to condense it.
“The book is based on client experiences and every example is an actual live client experience. Metz’s contribution was to make the book more visual, editing, and fact checking the facilitation exercises. He did contribute a couple of chapters on facilitation.”
Take, for instance, the experience Attong had with a T&T trade union, which, in its heyday of the 1970s and 1980s, had a membership of 50,000 members, making it one of the largest unions in South America.
The union had achieved much in its time: minimum wages for daily paid workers and the unskilled. This found favour with the membership. However, the firebrands retired and the younger ones had little desire to join. The union’s revenues, earned through membership dues, fell.
The union enjoyed large amounts of cash, so monthly financial reports were not prepared. Its changing financial position led the union leadership to see the need for accurate and timely reports and an efficient system to so deliver.
In six months, the finance system was improved. Manual systems were automated and accounting software was installed.
“Complete implementation of the new processes and activities to support the changes spanned a two-year period,” read Chapter 3 of the book on change management.
Attong said the book resounds with people who want a course on management.
“The way it is written is there are examples and you can see tangible outcomes. Most books tell you what to do, kind of, and how to do it, which is sort of, but they don’t give you what outcomes should look like. This book has outcomes clearly defined.”
She said any organisation that has been in business for five or more years and has not reexamined its processes needs to look again.
“The way the world does business has changed in the last five years, and if they are doing the same thing in the last five years, it may be worth their while to stick a pin.”
Attong asks that business owners ask the following questions:
Do you have overtime?
Is there a backlog of work?
Are your strategic plans working?
Are your managers operating at a strategic level?
“If you answer is yes to the first two, and no to second two, I’d recommend you look at your processes.”
Sale of the book has so far been “moderate,” Attong said.
Not one to rest on her laurels, Attong has plans to pen a second book. This one’s to be based on leadership where the manager’s office is a safe space for employees to go to in times of stress or challenge.
“It is a leadership style which allows people to show their vulnerability and also celebrate their strengths. I’ve organised the chapters, but not started writing yet, I’m just developing the analogy.”
Change or Die: The Business Process Improvement Manual will be launched today at Nigel R Khan Bookstore, West Mall, from 5 pm.
July 23, 2012
Within recent years, we have been bombarded by a plethora of business and management books, which have encouraged us to adopt a range of esoteric ideas, represented by such figures as Sun Zu, Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Gandhi and even God, not to mention Star Trek, to provide answers to critical management issues.
Maxine Attong’s and Terrence Metz’s book, Change or Die: The Business Process Improvement Manual, is a refreshing return to a practical approach in addressing fundamental issues faced by businesses in today’s world. The core strength of the book lies in its people centred approach and its involvement of employees at every stage of the business process improvement cycle.
It confronts and provides clear and concise solutions for such critical issues as aligning goals and objectives to the overarching vision, determining the core processes that impact the business, change management and the establishment of teams that can effectively implement the improvements that are required.
It provides an easy step-by-step methodology for substantially improving business processes and thus business performance.
The book is filled with wonderful and perceptive insights that are often overlooked in today’s business world, where the ethereal seems to have triumphed over substance. I strongly recommend this book.
August 1, 2012
Great for beginners, but missing key elements
Three stars out of five
By Business analysis instructor
This review is from: Change or Die: The Business Process Improvement Manual
I recommend this book to the process improvement neophyte. It is an easy read and understandable. The book provides a straightforward improvement process with best practices and facilitation techniques. The improvement process starts with forming a process improvement team and selecting processes for analysis and ends with evaluating new process results. If you have never done a process improvement project before, this is probably the best step-by-step manual with lots of details and tools.
However, as an experienced business analyst, I give the book a three star rating due to some disappointments with the book’s improvement process omissions.
• Value chains and the danger of improving only sub processes rather than the entire value chain is not addressed.
• Stakeholder resistance was identified as a concern, but not as a source of risk. Resistance was not listed as an entry on the risk register.
• Risk was not clearly delineated as threats and opportunities with separate risk registers.
• Leading and lagging process measurements for composing a new process owner dashboard was not discussed.
• Non-value activities required by auditors were not clearly highlighted. If these activities are eliminated an unsatisfactory aud it could follow.
• A hierarchy of process improvement proposals based on levels of process owner risk tolerance was not clearly discussed.
Attong was shown these two readers’ comments. On the latter, she said: “I don’t think he read the entire book.”
She said the subjects of risk register and opportunity register were addressed in Chapter 9, and the looks for business process improvement.
Attong explained the terms: risk register, challenges issues of projects that may be affected by the stated outcome of timeframe delivery; opportunity register, identifies unexpected opportunities that arise during a project. For example, a business owner may have to move operations because his/her rent went up, but changing location presents a chance to change the business model.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.