Super Users in Action: Training (II) – Changes driven by learning

by Laila Stancioff, Published in BPTrends in 2020

Continuing to talk about the training role the Super User has in its team, it is interesting to question: what type of changes is the Super User enabling?

One of the big assets of the Super Users is their capacity to learn and to help people learn. Someone that is not curious and willing to learn should not even become a Super User in the first place. Although in some companies the Super Users have formal training, most of the learning for a Super User comes from his curiosity, cooperation with others and willingness to learn and share this knowledge with other people. The Super User is always finding out something new and sharing this with his peers.

The changes made with the Super Users’ support are based on the learning capacity of the people. When Super Users discuss, they are learning and becoming more capable of solving different problems. Issues brought up to them by colleagues also generate constructive discussions. People develop an attitude of “certainly someone knows enough of this to help us solve the problem”, and people do look for this knowledge. When the problem is solved, the natural question is “how did you find this out?”. The presence of this knowledge stimulates people in the team to want to learn, so that they are also able to solve the problems. We should not underestimate the fact that the Super User is a peer – someone in my own team. So if he, who is “one of us”, can find a solution for problems, so can the rest of the team.

“Change driven by authority is more efficient to organize, often more effective in the short run, and more immediately comfortable for people in many organizations. If all goes well, great results may occur; productivity and profitability may soar. So may morale, as employees recognize that ‘things are getting better’. But even in this ‘best of all possible authoritarian initiatives’, the change effort is powerful only so long as it is pushed. (…) A few failures or setbacks, and the energy for change might dissipate altogether.” (SENG & all., 1999)

A continuous improvement culture cannot be built based on top-down changes. These can be done once in a while but the implementation is complicated and requires a lot of articulation. Because they are something external to the people who need to change.

It is different when the changes come from the inside. This does not make the change easier but gives a different motivation and perspective over it. A change that comes form the inside is more adapted to the person who is changing, and to the process it is improving. The change is more tailored to the occasion, and therefore generates the feeling that it makes more sense than something that an authority just imposed.

On the other hand, people are only motivated to try to implement these changes if they have the experience that it is possible: both that they are capable of it, and that the environment they are in does not reject it. A person that learns something and is able to use it for good is motivated to learn something else.

“But what if the initiative is driven by learning?

To succeed, it would need to involve repeated opportunities for small actions that individuals could design, initiate, and implement themselves. First on a small scale, and then with increasingly larger numbers of people and activities, participants would articulate the goals they would like to achieve, experiment with new projects and initiatives, learn from their successes and mistakes, and talk with each other, candidly and openly, about the results. This would build commitment through participation and action. It would also naturally draw in new people who share similar values and aspirations. This type of change process can become self-perpetuating. (…) A learning-oriented strategy aims to produce self-sustaining change in a way that continually accelerates its own growth and development. In systems terms, it operates as a ‘virtuous reinforcing cycle’.” (SENG & all., 1999)

With the help of the Super User, people can discuss issues and can really try to solve them, be creative, and implement solutions. They do not always need to wait for the approval or support from an external party, such as a Process Excellence Office, because some things are in the scope of their team. At the same time, they count on the support of someone who knows very well the process and the system, and who can assure them that “yes, we can try this solution”. David Jirik, Senior Manager – Group Continuous Improvement (Lean) Bendigo & Adelaide Bank, said that: “Sustaining a culture of continuous improvement is about having a problem-solving culture. A deliberate sense of belief in the business that closing gaps, removing waste and solving customer issues will genuinely take the business to a better place.” (PEX, 2014)

I personally have as my professional motto “Enable people through learning”. If you want to disclose a person’s true power, you have to teach her how to know herself and her job better and better, and learn how to learn. If you have that, nothing will stop her growing. And maybe also to wanting to be a Super User.

Next article will talk about how the Super User (especially when working on a network) channel these changes throughout the organization.


[1] Rizoto-Vidala-Pesoa, L. M. The Super User role as a tool to progress in maturity in Business Process Management – a study case of Cabot Latvia. Master thesis, University of Latvia, 2017.

[2] Senge, P.: Kleiner, A.; Roberts, C.; Ross, R.; Roth, G. & Smith, B. (1999). The dance of change – a fifth discipline resource – The challenges to sustain momentum in learning organizations. Currency doubleday.

[3] PEX Network’s 3rd Biennial State of the Industry Report (2014). Retrieved from on 2017 April 1st.

Laila Stancioff, Process-U Executive Director

Loved this post? Don't keep it to yourself! Share it!