Is BPMG imploding?

I’ve attended and spoken at a couple of BPMG conferences, as well as attending the new chapter meetings here in Toronto. I’ve never really understood the organization; some people refer to it as a “buyer’s club”, where membership just gets you discounted on their proprietary training and methods, and I since I’m not interested in their 8 Omega methodology (the name of which still makes me laugh), I haven’t found any reason to pay for a membership since my first time around. The quality of their output can be a bit uneven, and most of it appears to be driven by Steve Towers and Terry Schurter, both of whom I have met at the conferences (in fact, I wrote a review for Terry’s recent book).

This week, some weird things started happening. First, the usual weekly BPM email arrived from Steve Towers, but with a statement “I can’t point you at any articles on the bpmg.org site as it has been down for several days (more on that very soon)” — with no explanation, although the email came from Steve Towers’ address rather than BPMG.

Then, an email from Terry Schurter announcing that he has resigned BPMG, lengthy but no more informative:

Today ends almost 3 years of work with the BPM Group for me and I have many fond memories that I will cherish over the years.

I feel it is important and necessary to share with you a few things about my resignation to help you understand why this change has occurred.

I leave the BPM Group under duress. I will simply say that things have come to the point where what I get from the BPM Group won’t buy any “bread” and I’m not an “open-source” thought leader/CIO.

I retain my positive relationship with Steve Towers and will continue to work with him on the latest hot BPM concepts including CEM, the CEM Method (CEMM), Outside-In, SCOs, etc. CEM, CEMM and much of the other latest insights into the customer focus in BPM are the intellectual property of Bennu Group LLC, Terry Schurter and/or Steve Towers. These resources will no longer be available through the BPM Group but they will remain available…

Because I am not “going away” in fact; I see this as the trigger to take the best concepts forward without the chains of “inside-out” thinking placed on me by some of the directors in the BPM Group (not including Steve Towers of course). The place to visit me and have access to these resources is www.bennugroup.net. I hope you have the chance to stop by and visit.

Of course, I’ll be out there speaking at conferences (visit www.terryschurter.com for more on that) and I will be doing lots of other things as well. Whatever I am up to, you’ll find more about it at the sites listed above.

I hope that during my stay at the BPM Group I have helped to enrich some of your lives in some small way and I hope to have the opportunity to stay in touch with as many of you as possible.

Finally, in closing I wish to apologize for anything that the BPM Group may have promised you that they have failed to deliver on. If I could have left the BPM Group without duress my departure would have been carefully structured to help ensure an orderly exit from the business. Unfortunately that has not turned out to be the case.

As we say on the internet, WTF?

Then yesterday, a missive from BPMG (or what’s left of it):

I am writing to you to inform you of the official company position regarding issues with regard to BPMG and its web site.

I have been a non-executive director, director and shareholder of BPM Ventures Ltd the holding company of BPMG for some years. Recently a dispute has arisen in the company about some invoices and payments that have been claimed to be improper. A board meeting was called to consider the best action for the company until such disputes had been resolved. I have have been appointed managing director and the executive authority of David Lyneham-Brown and Steve Towers have been suspended whilst due enquiries can be made. I must emphasis that there is no implication of wrong doing at this stage by any party but it is normal in these circumstances to suspend individuals until due enquires have been made.

One of the disputes involves a company called Bennu, run by a Mr Terry Schurter. This company had the responsibility, amongst others, of running and maintaining the BPMG web site. One of their invoices has been claimed to be improperly submitted and is in dispute. A matter that I intend to resolve as quickly as possible. However Bennu have taken it upon themselves to re-direct the BPMG web site to their own website. We would like all parties to know that they are improperly doing this and have no grounds or authority for this redirection. We will of course be taking appropriate action but that will take time.

The training that BPMG have so successfully delivered over the past few years has not changed and we intend to continue to honour all training course and responsibilities. To this end David Lyneham-Brown remains involved in the day to day activities of the company and along with our colleague Rose Butler, will remain available for any questions you might have regarding the delivery of BPMG services. In addition both he and Rose will be your contact points for any new bookings. All training materials and IP remain the property of BPMG but customers need to be aware of possible improper use of materials in the future.

It is most regretful that a subcontractor to BPMG has seen fit to take such actions over a minor invoice that has been questioned in its validity and will be resolved in a short time if the submitted invoice is genuine. We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience that this may have caused and we will take all and any actions necessary to protect our customers position and ensure that all services are delivered to the usual high levels of standard that we have always delivered.

Finally, I wish to assure you that the company is solvent (as agreed by the board yesterday) and remains in a position to honor any proper financial commitments made by the company. We will be doing our very best to get normal service resumed as soon as possible.

We will be setting up a web site in the near future where further information will be available.

Stewart Ashton

As a temporary measure you will find us at www.processperformance.com along with details of how to contact us.

The BPMG site is still redirected to Terry Schurter’s Bennu Group website, and Ashton’s letter and the BPMG logos are on the site that Ashton mentions at the end of his letter. The BPMG.org domain registration is private, but presumably Terry has control over it if he was able to redirect to his own site — an action that appears to be in tremendously bad faith, even if not illegal, since I assume that BPMG owns its own trade name and domain name, even if Terry was managing the website and domain records.

Given that the two key visible people at BPMG are no longer on active duty — Terry has resigned and Steve has been suspended by the board — it’s not clear how BPMG can continue to do business.

8 thoughts on “Is BPMG imploding?

  1. Hi
    As an occasional reader of the BPMG newsletter and always having an arms length from them, i must say the last week has been amazing.
    First Schurter and co. have acted in an incredibly unprofessional way – who would do business with these people – is this the future they are designing – “pay my invoice or i will steal your website!”
    Second, BPMG are taking dirty laundry to the next level – why respond in such a childish way – me thinks thee doth protest too much.
    Third would you deal with either party? I feel for the sponsors of Process2007.com especially the minor ones who’s links also go to bennu.com.
    There are chapters of BPMG around the world – if 2 people and their egos and greed derail it then maybe it was always built on shifting sands.
    Cheers
    Daniel

  2. And the saga continues:

    A recent newsletter from Steve Towers:
    “The BPM community is in a state of hiatus currently. Many of us are suffering as a consequence.
    Read my perspective in my Openletter at http://stevetowers.com/OpenLetter.html

    If you go to that page…
    (C) etc…

    “Dear Colleague

    As the major shareholder and founding member of what became the BPMG in 1992 and having single handedly, until 2003 worked in developing the community, I am doing everything within my power to ensure not only BPM Groups survival but its ongoing growth and success.

    Here is a little background.
    In 1992 I met with twelve colleagues representing companies in Europe and the United States to form ¨A forum for the exchange of information and advice to advance business performance through process management¨. Many of those original people are still my firm friends and some now head up global corporations. I will be forever grateful for the times we have shared.

    Up until 2003 I fulfilled many roles for the community and we grew to over 9,000 members in more than 50 countries. I traveled extensively promoting our cause and visited over 40 countries, attended and talked at more than 100 conferences and had the very good fortune of making many friends in every culture on our planet.

    I have occasionally been invited to collaborate on a number of books and in fact have written and contributed to more than seven including ¨An Executives Guide to BPR¨ (1994), ¨In Search of BPM Excellence: (2003), ¨The Real Time Enterprise¨, Thrive – How to Succeed in the Age of the Customer, ¨Extreme Competition¨, ¨Customer Expectation Management – Success without Exception¨. Of course there are others in the pipeline including ¨Rats on a Sinking Ship¨. The latter perhaps seems sadly more appropriate than I could ever have imagined when it was conceived last year!
    Throughout the last 15 years I have worked with many of you to diligently push the cause of process management into every nook and cranny of our organizations. As a community we have achieved sometimes fantastic success and at other times provided a much needed wake up call to our colleagues and co-workers.

    In 2003 having grown the BPMG to more than 9,000 members I was joined at the helm by David Lyneham-Brown and Stewart Ashton. Mr. Ashton is the man who has now assumed Executive control of the Group and you may have seen his ‘official’ note to the community last week.

    I am saddened at the current troubles besetting the community and hope for all our sakes that the BPMG re-emerges with its original ethos intact. Be aware I am doing and will continue to do everything within my limited power to make it so.

    To everyone I have shared and worked alongside – thank you. To those who have recently written and telephoned with personal support and offers of help I am humbled and very grateful. You helped to create a wonderful thing and I sincerely wish you the very best for a brighter future.

    Kind Regards,

    Steve Towers – BPMG founder ”

    Hm. And then if you go to the website…

    Welcome to Bennu Group LLC, the premier place to find the latest in thought leadership, training, workshops, conferences and resources related to all things process.

    But why are you here?

    You are here for a very simple reason. Due to delinquency of payment from the BPM Group to Bennu Group for services including operating the bpmg.org website you have been directed here where most of the core BPM Group staff have landed i.e. Terry Schurter, CIO; Alex Morse, Technical Director; Leah Morse, Chief Editor. Look for more on this particular subject soon

    We believe in the overall mission that we have always understood in respect to the BPM Group and we know we understand that mission far better than anyone else (with the possible exception of Steve Towers (stevetowers.com)who is one of our Training Coaches). We are taking the “bit in our mouths” to continue as the world’s leading organization in the pursuit of BPM Excellence.

    We hope you stick around to see what we are doing and what we have to offer on our site. Our mission is clear and our will unrelenting – we will lead the charge in making people’s lives simpler, easier and more successful.

    We hope we can do the same for you.

    Regards,

    The Bennu Group

    Please Note:

    The Bennu Group IS NOT affiliated with the BPM Group in any form or manner. We understand that the BPM Group has numerous commitments to many of you and though we sincerely would like to help you in determining the status of these commitments the Bennu Group does not have any means to take action or determine the status of any BPM Group activity or commitment.

    Queries regarding BPM Group commitments or other business-related concerns are recommended to be sent to Stewart Ashton at [email protected] This (to the best of our limited knowledge) is the new primary point of contact for the BPM Group.

    We know this is a trying time (it is very much so for us as well) but we are confident that we will all get through this to a better, brighter place. Those of us at the Bennu Group that were associated with the BPM Group in the past are deeply saddened by the current situation. We can only say that for those who may feel they may have incurred financial risk in respect to commitments with the BPM Group that we are in the same boat with you.

    OUCH….
    I thought the BPMG organization was ok. Fairly good articles and RSS feed.

    True, the 8 Omega stuff didn’t really seem to work. Omega and CEM seemed a collection of loose gems, basically taken from various sources, such as Lean, BPR, etc.
    But I do think that the BPM community needs organizations striving for BPM methods and best practices, and BPMG is (was?) a promising player…

  3. Another day and more twists and turns in what can only be described as the BPMG “Soap Opera”. First out of the blocks was former CEO Steve Towers with an email including a link to his “open letter” (you can read it at http://www.stevetowers.com/OpenLetter.html). It is interesting to note that Steve states “I am doing everything in my power to ensure not only BPM Groups survival but its ongoing growth and success.” this would be good news to customers, members (and shareholders such as me), however today I also discovered that Bennu LLC, who list Steve Towers as nothing more than an associate (see http://bennugroup.net/about/), may be being a little less than forthcoming with the truth. It seems that Steve Towers is in fact an officer of the company (click http://ecpa.cpa.state.tx.us/coa/servlet/cpa.app.coa.CoaGetTp?Pg=tpid&Search_Nm=bennu%20&Button=search&Search_ID=32020327204 and follow the link to “Officers And Directors Information”).

    So if I am reading this right, a company in which Steve is a Director has removed the BPMG website from another company in which he was a director and shareholder. At the same time preventing members/customers of one of his companies from being able to access the services for which they have paid. Confused? Well I certainly I am. Hardly seems like the actions of someone with the interests of members, customers and shareholders at heart.

  4. When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro? hmmm. Nothing as interesting as some juicy internet drama, but I liked the BPMG chapter meeting I attended. oh well.

  5. This is turning into a weird and wonderful saga. I find it hard to believe that the people involved have behaved this unprofessionally (stealing domain names?) then bragged about it publicly. I think that we’re seeing an end to BPMG and its programs, although undoubtedly most of the content will be resurrected by Terry and Steve on the Bennu Group site. However, how far are you going to trust those involved in a caper like this?

    Roeland, I also found the BPMG “methodologies” to be non-cohesive, and the name “8 Omega” always made me laugh since it seemed to be some sort of 6 Sigma joke. I’m not convinced that BPMG could have become a leader for best practices, since there was, as you state, a lot of recycled material from other sources rather than a lot of original thought leadership.

    Stu, like you, I enjoyed the local chapter meeting here in Toronto, although that had little to do with BPMG content and more to do with the speaker and the networking with other BPM professionals. I’m sure that we can find another outlet for this sort of session; I had approached the ABPMP last year about a Toronto chapter and they wanted to help get it started, but with BPMG also starting a chapter I didn’t think that we could support two so similar organizations here. However, if I can get a few others to help out, I might try to spearhead the local ABPMP again.

  6. It is indeed very interesting to see the SAGA. For many people closely involved with the BPMG however… not a surprise!!! Steve has quite obviously fallen …. his past antics catching up on him. BPMG.org ? a not for profit organisation or BPMG the front for commercial endeavours? … The later and not a good one at that.!! The web site was always difficult to understand… It looks like BPMG forgot to review its own processes… allowing domains to be stolen… amongst other accusational comments … Steve talks about trust… forget it… move on… let BPMG die… the time has passed…. let Steve’s Gartner award for his contribution to BPM industry be his thanks to the past master… and in with new Honest blood… Not Terry!!!

  7. Has anyone else here recently paid for BPMG training, did not receive the training, and are having trouble obtaining a refund?

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