Explaining Tangleology

Tangleology:  The study of why business processes get tangled, how to remove the tangles and how to prevent them.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines a tangle as ‘a complicated or confused state or condition’.  Untangling a business process tangle requires creative thinking.  Tangles don’t follow a straight line and straight line thinking can be inadequate when you try and remove them.  Connections may be between dissimilar things in different domains. Creative thinking and problem  solving tools and techniques provide the perspectives that can uncover a path within a tangle.

We see tangles in organisations when things are going wrong but for unknown reasons.  The processes lost in a tangle, who owns then and how they connect together is unclear.  Resources are wasted, deadlines are missed, people get frustrated and feel helplessly trapped in tangles around them.  Trying to speak to some companies can mean encountering a system that seems cunningly designed to prevent human contact, as shown in the graphic below.

Tangles can develop from organisational growth when business processes have not kept pace with business change or from acquisition and mergers when new processes (and the working practices that go with them) are taken into  a new host company.

“If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.”

– Jack Welch

That’s when tangles happen!