Chapter Twenty-Eight: Activities – Disciplined Execution

ConPriDigm AvatarQuality IS…reducing waste where it counts.

Why are activities the elements that make processes work?



Conceptual Pattern for Activities

An activity is a measurable amount of work or behavior performed to convert inputs to outputs with the capacity to undergo change. Activities lead to a series of actions and an aggregated response. It is directed toward a specific aim, intended to achieve a result, happens due to a special set of circumstances and is significant between two or more things that depart from expectations and vary from a norm or standard.  Activities require mental or physical energy, undertaken by an individual or group of people, performed to convert inputs to outputs, and result in a likely final state. An activity is a phenomenon that follows,  and is caused by some previous phenomenon. Activities react to internal stimuli; the same way in which a person, organism, or group responds to a specific set of conditions. (Pattern Engine – Activity N=12 © 2014)

If activities are understood the meaning of Quality will follow.

First Principle: The purpose of an activity is the efficient and effective execution of processes.

Second Principle:  Activities are the smallest unit of work and have four characteristics: (1) duration, (2) relationships with other activities (3) resource consumption, and (4) and cost.1

Third Principle: Activities must be monitored as a discipline providing the route to improve both the value received by customers and the profit earned by providing that value. 2

Fourth Principle: Activities enable: a product to be produced as a unit or batch; a technology to produce a product; and production to occur. 2

Fifth Principle: Activities are performed to service customers and prospects.3

Sixth Principle: Activities consume costs, products, and services; customers consume activities.4

Key Conceptual Patterns


A discipline is a branch of knowledge involving the practice or methods of teaching and enforcing acceptable patterns of behavior via a system of rules of conduct. A discipline is the psychological result of systematic execution and a manner of acting.  Disciplines are orderly, logical arrangements of acts, usually in steps, according to a plan, that result in perception, learning and reasoning.  A discipline germinates from the combination of data, information, experience, and individual interpretation leading to the awareness or understanding of a circumstance or fact. A discipline is gained through association, management, and controlling of a process or activity. (Pattern Engine – Discipline N=12 © 2014)


Execution is the act of accomplishing some aim using knowledge, as distinguished from merely possessing it, terminating in effective action and success. Execution is the achievement of an anticipated outcome that causes a result. It is marked by certain qualities, allocating powers to produce an intended effect, accomplishes its planned intended purpose, produces good results, and guides planned actions. (Pattern Engine – Execution N=12 © 2014)

Next Post: Processes – Linking Activities

  1. Business Dictionary Online
  2. Cokins, G., A. Stratton, and J. Helbling : An ABC Manager’s Primer, Institute of Management Accountants, 1993.
  3. Cokins, G. (1996). Activity Based Cost Management: Making it Work, 1996.
  4. “The “Principles of Activity Based Management”, ICMS, Inc


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Chapter Twenty-Seven: Improvement – An Antonym for Stagnation

ConPriDigm AvatarQuality IS…an Antonym for Stagnation

Why will organizations, that are effective and efficient in their improvement efforts,  eventually dominate their markets?



Conceptual Pattern for Improvement

Improvement is a condition superior to an earlier condition made possible by progress in development and the promotion of desirable qualities. It is a valid assumption that encourages and advances knowledge. Improvement is an activity of a gradual kind. It moves toward achieving a goal or reaching a higher standard for moving forward and rests on the validity or effect of something else that must be kept in mind when making a decision. Improvement affects a particular state of repair or ability or function that results in enterprise growth and acceptance. (Pattern Engine – Improvement N=12 © 2014)

If the meaning of improvement is understood the meaning of Quality will follow.

First Principle: The purpose of improvement is to make activities and processes and systems more effective, efficient and adaptable. 1

Second Principle: Improvement requires knowledge: knowledge of what needs to be accomplished, knowing that a recommended change is an improvement and knowing what needs to be changed that will result in improvement. 2

Third Principle: Streamlining the process identifies the methods that create positive change in effectiveness, efficiency and adaptability. 1

Fourth Principle: Streamlining requires the elimination of bureaucracy and duplication, values-added assessment, simplification, cycle-time reduction, error proofing, simplifying the way procedures are written, standardization of activities, supplier partnerships, and automation or mechanization where appropriate. 1

Fifth Principle: Finite resources are needed for improvement; these resources should be focused on the initiatives that best accomplish the aim(s) of the organization. 

 Sixth Principle: All improvement requires change, but all changes do not result in improvement, the change must lead to higher value to someone — better quality, a lower    price, or both. 2

Key Conceptual Patterns


Adaptability is the ability to adjust easily to a new environment or different conditions or be changed due to changed circumstances to suit a different purpose. It is an aggregated series of actions with a rationally stated motive. Adaptability is directed toward a specific aim intended to achieve a result. It happens due to a special set of circumstances and is particularly significant between two or more things that depart from expectations and vary from a norm or standard. Adaptability involves external surrounding conditions, things, or influences especially those affecting a particular activity. Adaptability is manifested as an anticipated outcome that guides planned actions.  (Pattern Engine – Adaptability N=12 © 2014)


An explanation that promotes understanding, reduces complexity, and eliminates superfluous details. Simplification is a capacity to perceive the condition of isolated facts. Simplification leads to meaning based on rational thought, inference or discrimination. It is made up of many intricate, compounded and interrelated parts resulting in something difficult to analyze, understand, or solve. Simplification addresses issues that are considered separately from the whole but are a treatment of all the individual parts. (Pattern Engine – Simplification N=12 © 2014)

Next Post: Activities – The Key Components for Effective and Efficient Processes

1   H. James Harrington: Business Process Improvement – The Breakthrough Strategy for Total Quality, Productivity, and Competiveness, 1991,

2   Gerald Langley, Kevin Nolan, Thomas Nolan, Clifford Norman & Lloyd Provost: The Improvement Guide –  A Practical Approach to Enhancing Organizational Performance, 1996.

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