Armin Cruz describes the difference between a COE and a COP

Circle of Excellence and a Community of Practice

Both a Circle of Excellence (CoE) and a Community of Practice (CoP) have their merits and shortcomings. We would like to contrast the two briefly to provide a high level summary. As we have discussed a CoE is a fairly formal hierarchical structure that many firms in America take full advantage of. A CoE is typically comprised of many different skilled-based job families within a given function. For example, if you are in a customer service CoE the organization will likely consists of:

  • Customer service agents
  • Customer service managers
  • Customer service executives
  • Customer service business support managers
  • Customer service HR business partner

Typically the unit will possess a relatively flat structure, with the aim to break down the silos within a business or organization. The desired business outcome of a CoE is to reduce cycle time, increase quality, and take advantage of shared services within the team and reduces cost.

A CoP on the other hand is an informal collection of skill-based teammates. For instance, within the customer-service CoE there may be a select few that are very process centric. Within the CoE a leader within the organization may form a CoP. The CoP aims to drive a reduction in waste, duplication, and replication while also aiming to generate synergy within other CoEs and CoPs. The CoP created here should meet with other CoPs to further refine the process within other groups and further deconstruct the silo effect within a business environment. The increased focus and visibility will assist the leadership to dismantle non-value add activities. After all, if there is waste within one group it may be a discussion around priority on the budget. However, if two or more have the same issue, one can stand reasonably sure that the customer / consumer / client is experiencing this inefficiency as well. This is the first step to inclusion in an operating budget and annual strategy plan.

Armin Cruz is a Six Sigma Master Black Belt that specializes in LEAN methodologies in the financial transactional industry. Armin Cruz received his MBB while serving as a Vice President at Bank of America’s Process Excellence division. Armin currently serves as Director and Head of Continuous Improvement for a public firm in the financial real estate and property management industry. Armin Cruz earned his MBA from the University of Phoenix, and his BA from the University of Texas at Dallas. Armin Cruz lives in north Texas with his wife, three dogs and is anxiously awaiting his first baby boy in December.

For more information about this topic, please review and follow me on twitter with @arminjcruz, or search About.Me for Armin Cruz. Additionally, I am on SlideShare; please search Slide Share for a presentation titled “4 Steps to Solving Business Problems” by Armin Cruz. You may also reach out to me on my personal website and request more detailed information.

Armin Cruz on A Streamlined Methodology to Solving Business Problems

Armin Cruz is a Six Sigma Master Black Belt that specializes in LEAN methodologies in the financial transactional industry. Armin Cruz received his MBB while serving as a Vice President at Bank of America’s Process Excellence division. Armin currently serves as Director and Head of Continuous Improvement for a public firm in the financial real estate and property management industry. Armin Cruz earned his MBA from the University of Phoenix, and his BA from the University of Texas at Dallas. Armin Cruz lives in north Texas with his wife, three dogs and is anxiously awaiting his first baby boy in December.

With this background Armin Cruz provided contextual background, details, and advice on “Solving Business Problems.”

As the executive of your organization or line of business you must ensure a concise and precise leadership strategy to solving the business problems your division faces. Regardless of the problem, at the strategic level, a simple four-step process will help you to break the issue down into bite-size and solvable components.

This provides two significant keys. First, the repeatability and predictability of your leadership style and plan. Your team must be able to understand your leadership philosophy and approach. Without this, the team will view your leadership as transient at best, and at worst inadequate. Second, clear communication is foundational to trust and performance. Performance requires trust in leadership, and trust requires communication. In summary, simply solving the business problem is not good enough. At the senior executive level you have to ensure you solve it “the right way” according to business consultant Peter Drucker.

Therefore, if you have a business problem, you have to view this as an opportunity. Not just an opportunity to create a corrective action plan. This is your supervisor’s or manager’s job. Rather, an opportunity to create additional and value-add communication to enhance your consensus building stylized leadership.

The first step to ‘Solving Business Problems’ is to define the environment.   This includes your SWOT (Strength Weakness Opportunity Threats) analysis, as well as a concise problem statement. Ideally, you should break the problem statement down to one or two sentences. If you cannot describe the problem concisely, you probably do not have a clear vision and definition of the problem itself.

The second step in ‘Solving Business Problems’ is to define the objective. Once you know what is not working, you need to determine what the future state looks like. Is it a return to normalcy, or do you intend to re-engineer the process? Before you start fixing the issues, understand precisely where it is you want to go and how the desired state should function at a high level.

The third step in ‘Solving Business Problems’ is to create two or three avenues of approach to success. The adage “One is none, and two is one” rings true when planning solutions to complex problems. Never put all your eggs in one basket. It is always a prudent practice to possess a back-up plan in the event of a failure to execute.

Finally, the fourth step in ‘Solving Business Problems’ is to measure your success and document an after action report. This is arguably the most important step because it starts to create culture shifts. If we examine and measure the changes at each step, and compare those changes over time then we start to create the foundation for continuous improvement. This leads to an open consensus-building environment where problems are surfaced quickly and resolutions adopted organically.

For more information about this topic, please read my Slide Share title “4 Steps to Solving Business Problems.” You may also reach out to me on my personal website and request more detailed information.

Point of Contact:

Name: Armin Cruz

Phone: (972) 333 – 9502

Email: armin.j.cruz@hotmail.com

Website: www.armincruz.us

SlideShare: www.slideshare.net/ArminCruz

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ArminJCruz