Director of Business Process & Organizational Change Management Mark Butler knows Akili all too well, as he’s been with us from the very beginning! This week, we discovered more about this seasoned Akilian and his role.
What’s your role at Akili and the most satisfying aspect about it?
I serve as the Director of the BPM/OCM Center of Excellence. My responsibility in this role is to establish all of the IP, methodology, and discipline necessary to provide a best in-class level service for clients who need help with business process optimization and leading organizational change.
I have told people for years that one of the best parts of my job is that no two days are ever alike. I may provide the same type of service to our clients, or collaborate with my fellow employees around common activities, nevertheless, every case is unique, every outcome is unique, and every project brings new opportunities to learn, adapt, and grow.
How did you become interested in your line of work?
I was working in our data modeling group at American Airlines in 1991 when I received an invitation from the VP of our Division to participate in a special project. It was the first Business Process Reengineering effort at AA. BPR was a hot topic of the day with the recent publication of Hammer and Champy’s wildly successful book, “Reengineering the Corporation”.
For the next nine months, I was blessed to work with nine other peers who also received this invitation. It was a huge project, with major game-changing outcomes for the Saber Computer Services, the Division in which I worked. But more importantly, it was a new path for me. We were coached extensively by four experts in the new field and it was an awesome experience. It was stressful every day for sure, but an amazing opportunity.
By the time we reached the conclusion of the project, it had become apparent to me that a process-centric approach to solving business problems was the best way to make a real difference in the world. I went to our mentor consultants and asked if there was any way I could join them in this work. I could not imagine going back to my former role and ever being satisfied knowing what I now knew.
Long story short, the answer was yes, and the rest is history.
What about Akili made you decide to join?
When I joined in July 1996, Akili was still in its infancy. The “culture” of Akili that is now a hallmark was barely forming, so I had no perspective on that, and Akili had no big reputation of success to speak of. I made the decision based primarily on my brief interactions with Shiek and Andrew and I have never regretted the decision we made that week. Everything good that has happened to me in my career since 1996 has been a direct result of the relationships I have formed at Akili.
What’s a memory that stood out to you at Akili?
Wow… that is a tough question. How do you pick one from among so many? Given the two decades of water that have passed under the Akili bridge, you can imagine those waters have carried an uncountable quantity of memories. On the fun side of the coin, the Cancun trip was no doubt the very best memory. On the work side of the coin, I have to say that my work on the ERP implementation at Samson Resources will always be a highlight of my career.
In your opinion, what makes Akili different?
Every company wants to say how “different” they are in their marketing materials. I give it as my opinion that the real difference is based on two factors. First, our CEO has a very clear and unmatched expectation of excellence in terms of our performance in client engagements. Failure is NOT an option. Secondly, this same expectation of excellence flows right into the character of the people whom we attract, prepare, and deploy to those client engagements; and the same standard of performance for us all is the number one priority. We hire very smart people with a strong work ethic, and we teach and guide them towards the standard of excellence that must prevail in our work.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
If you had asked me that question two decades ago, the answer would be different. We all experience changes in the focus of our lives over time. Gratefully, today my understanding of what is important in life is for more refined. I love being with, and working on whatever project you can imagine with my wife, the center and soul of my life.
We enjoy serving others in our church work—we teach, mentor, and guide others we love toward lives of richness and joy. We love our 10 grandchildren beyond words and enjoy supporting them in all of their fun growing-up activities. We love the mountains. As a family, we went camping every year. Holiday traditions are important family foundation building work that we are committed to doing. Christmas together is our favorite time of year.
What keeps you motivated?
Motivating me has never been something anyone else has had to do. My intense internal competitive nature drove me for years. Today, the driver is more based in the search for knowledge about my specific professional focus. BPM and OCM are all about relentless, continuous improvement and about purposeful adaptation to the factors in a dynamic and constantly evolving business environment. I love to learn. The joy of learning drives me.
Tell us about some of the greatest advice you’ve ever received.
It is exceptionally easy to identify the greatest advice or counsel I’ve ever received—if you don’t include the scriptures. Without question, that advice came from Stephen R. Covey and his two best-selling books: 7-Habits and Principle Centered Leadership.
My wife will tell you that the truths taught in his books changed me, for the better.
Anything you’d like everyone to know?
Serving and helping others is one of the keys to understanding ourselves, and recognizing the blessings in our lives.
Many years ago we received a cup from someone that sat in our kitchen window sill. It had a wonderful message inscribed on it:
“Life is a gift. It’s wrapped in a ribbon woven with dreams, and whether you are very young or very old, life is full of wonder and surprises.”