OK, I know we don’t "do" enterprise 2.0, but I thought it was a catchy title.
In case you haven’t scrolled down yet, this is a gigantic post even for my standards. It started off reviewing an evolving theme of enterprise 2.0 moving to process-based solutions, and on the way I stumbled across another perspective on the world of "knowledge work" and "processes" called "Adaptive Process Management".
I was going to break this post into parts, but I had already written it in a woven whole piece, so bad luck you are just going to have to read it bit by bit yourself.
Michael Idinopulos from the Transparent Office blog is on the money continuously…he has a very realistic take on enterprise 2.0. In his latest post he takes the enterprise 2.0 movement full circle…it’s not about tools, it’s not about culture, it’s about processes. Don’t I know it, I mentioned this a while ago, and I recently wrote a massive post not long ago on ad-hoc work. It’s actually about all these things, "design" needs to be sweet, people need to be willing to give it a go, but they will do this moreso if you make the tools irresistible and in-the-flow…kind of like you can’t do without a remote control for your TV.
And we do this my embedding the tools into existing processes, and also assembling these tools for adhoc work in a more solidfied way.
I’ll just note here, as I do at the end of this post, that socialising business processes is closing the current circle of the state of the enterprise. Next is leaping to another circle where there is a shift in organisational structure from a process to network based organisation.
Anyway back to the stepping stone, which is the focus of this post…
This is how Michael puts it:
|"Process, rather than culture, is increasingly seen as the key enabler of social software in the enterprise. Rather than wringing our hands and gnashing our teeth about how to change organizational culture, we’re looking at how to insert social tools into the existing business process. Conversely, we’re also starting to look at how business processes can be redesigned and optimized now that these social tools are available."|
Some similar words from Gautam Ghosh:
|"The challenge is that the technology needs to become embedded in the business processes. If ERP was all about business processes, Enterprise 2.0 has to do with business relationships. There are currently lots of tools for managing the relationships within the enterprise and also for building relations with customers. There are CRM systems and e-mails. These systems are not giving anybody any pain. Nonetheless, they are frustrating at times in the etiquettes they employ and the way they are structured. Also, the vendors have not been able to showcase how these things will be able to ease some pain that currently the business relationships have."|
This is poignant as it brings up the notion of these tools to help with existing business issues that current tools and processes are failing at, and it also brings up the human behavioural obstacle of the risk averse "endowment effect."
More of the same from Ajay Gopidran, but he also throws in "shifting context" into the mix, and conversations about general topics while neglecting conversations within the nitty-gritty of a business process.
"Most of us are aware of the huge benefits that E20 delivers, but what we fail to understand is, at work most of the work-related conversations are triggered within various business applications that users/employees use for Project Management, CRM, SCM, ERP, HRMS, etc… So if we blindly build enterprise collaboration networks and tools that are independent of these business applications then these E20 tools & network will be mostly used for conversations around generic topics, limiting the value they bring to the organization.
For the business user, he/she will have to switch from the ’context’ of the business application to Email to conduct business conversations. Switching ’context’ is such a waste of productive time and the ’knowledge’ which should have resided within the business app, for others to benefit, is now buried deep within someone’s inbox, with the risk of this ‘knowledge’ walking out the door with a departing employee.
I believe Enterprise 2.0 tools will find a quicker adoption in organizations if they are:
"“When enterprise social networks work independent of other business applications, e-mail continues to be the choice for conversations. The conversations on the social network is then limited to generic topics. For social networking to succeed in the enterprise, it must have business content. If my business applications can socialize around business events, then there is a definite business value…"
Ajay is the founder of Qontext, and this app looks like it’s right on the money as per the focus of this post:
"Applications that support our business process and manage data do not have built-in tools to support conversations among co-workers. Lack of tools on an application page, say a new HR policy page on the portal that may provide context for a conversation, forces us to switch to email. This results in loss of work continuity and even productivity. Though such conversations grow and become invaluable over time, emails get buried deep in the inbox and are delinked from the context that started them.
Qontext (pronounced ‘context’) offers simple, yet powerful toolset for communicating, sharing, and collaborating from inside common business applications."
Hatch Carpenter also picked up on this meme over 6 months ago (pleasantly surprised to see I left a comment). Hutch calls this Social Software 2.0 (Addressing Existing Enterprise Workflows):
"The integration of collaboration, increased findability, social networking and crowdsourcing into core enterprise activities requiring defined workflows, specific user sign-offs, results measurement and role-based access."
Hutch talks about the participation obstacle of shifting context:
"In Social Software 1.0, that’s a standalone wiki. I’m a fan of the notion that collaboration needs to occur in-the-flow of work. And having a separate wiki for collaborating on a customer quotation analysis makes it tougher to get usage.
In Social Software 2.0, that’s a collaborative space integrated into a sales force automation application. The customer quotation analysis occurs right where all the “action” occurs in the effort to win new business."
He then lists scenarios of current business processes that could be socialised, like proposals (see Zapproved), procurement, product management (feature requests)
…this social software movement has happened in reverse….
Let’s change gears
First we had KM mandating people to share what they know, without any engagement..
One of these tools were Communties of Practice (CoPs), but yet no-one could find like people to be able to share their interest with in a CoP space. This environment is not mandated, but rather facilitated, and the level of engagement is based on trust and reciprocity.
In order to find each other to collaborate and create CoPs we then had expert locators, and now we have social networks (from subject matter experts to subject matter networks)
We wanted people to go out of their way and volunteer their know-how (and try to attack this resistance via culture change).
Even if we have engagement, it’s still open social silos or social islands.
But now enterprise-wide networks are connecting the organisation as a whole. People can share and ask questions in the open, they can find each other, they can then spin off into collaborations and CoPs.
But even so, this is not going to touch everyone in the organisation. The part that will touch the most is the profile feature of the social network as a look up tool, but not everybody will want to post updates, but that’s OK.
So how do we get social tools to touch everyone?
And if we find a way to do this, we then hope people will become used to the technology and it’s use, and expect that people will have another look at social network microblogging and CoPs and collaboration groups.
But first we need to get them hooked by offering them a way to do their everyday routines and tasks better.
Now we have finally got there, what we want to do is not just offer something new, but also offer something that attacks current pain points (not a solution looking for a problem), now we are thinking about getting people to work socially within current processes.
Social tools need to be features of existing products, they need to be designed into our flow and processes. This way they are not seen as social or a timewaster, they are seen as productivity and process improvement…so in the end they are just the newest way to do something better, a better way to execute our tasks, so why wouldn’t you want it.
As Michael says this of course makes ROI easier (see Dennis Howlett), as you measure the process improvement and effectiveness doing it the new or enhanced way. And adoption is easier as it’s not about volunteering know-how, it’s not about "what’s in it for me", it’s simply about doing your same processes but in an enhanced way…I don’t get up to change the channel, I now use a remote.
But when I say doing it a new way, I don’t mean shifting contexts during a process ie. leave my process tool, and hop over to an isolated forum, then come back to my process tool…when things aren’t designed into the flow of working, they won’t be used. Sure going over to that forum may be more effective than closed email, but it’s not convenient, if it takes more than 7 seconds to access (and then there is the time to write the content) it just won’t cut it.
It’s also important that the words blog, forum, microblog, blog are no longer foreign terms as they are embedded into your turf…
An ideal IT Support database would have a feature that when you’re stuck on a call, you can blast a message to your colleagues. Blast a message is a much more comfortable word than blog, microblog or forum. At the moment you either email or IM people you know, or perhaps hop over to the IT CoP to post a forum question. This is not in the flow of my existing process, this is clunky, it needs to augment the existing process in a smooth and unconscious way.
When the support call is closed it may perhaps automatically post an update in the activity stream. Currently you wouldn’t alert people that you just closed a call, it’s instead recorded in some backend database that is reported on each month. But with activity feeds, this is a move from "need to know" to "need to share", even better that the system shares it on your behalf (implicitly).
A Project management tool where you post a progress update in a field, and that blasts a message out. If someone said you are blogging, you would say what do you mean, I’m just updating a field that broadcasts a message.
Currently we need to go to our CoP/Team space and use a blog…not gonna happen, instead it needs to be designed into the process…it has to be unconscious.
Good design means we can leave inline comments at points in the Project Management Gnatt Chart, similar to inline comments on the timeline of a music track in Soundcloud (see What is a timed comment and how is it different to a regular comment?). Again, this is designed in-the-flow, rather than shift context over to your Team space and use a microblog, blog or forum. It’s convenient and it just seems normal, it doesn’t feel like your publishing…which can be a dirty word.
From 1st into 2nd gear
So far we have got out of reverse and into 1st gear by socialising existing business processes, now we can shift to second gear for that Above-the-Flow sharing that we were trying to do at the start, but people just weren’t ready for.
Now that people are used to the tools and are enhancing existing processes; engaged, trust them, and don’t want to do without them (like a tradesperson’s toolbox) ie. they are the new email and attachments on the block…now we might have a chance of people going over to some social silos and sharing know-how.
So yes social tools are about "tacit knowledge" if you want to call it that, they are about people sharing experiences, people connecting to others, asking questions to the crowd, collaborating…but they are also about process improvement.
And not clunky process improvement as I described in eg 1 above.
Here’s another example
We used to review a document in email, but then we moved to a forum thread…yes open, unlike email, but still separated from the document, and clunky in my processes…it’s not unconscious. The new way is the document itself having a comments thread. I’m just commenting on a document, yet it’s very similar to using a forum to discuss a document review. But yet a forum is scary to some, it’s a new technology, whereas the document commenting feels normal, and it’s right there in my flow, rather than somehow looking for a link on the document that points to a forum thread.
Forums and Blogs are still essential as standalone places for groups to share and help each other eg. CoPs. Networks are still essential for people to connect, discover, converse, crowdsource. But these are both 2nd gear. What we have to get right is get out of reverse from standalone tool spaces, and shift into 1st gear to In-the-Flow of processes, and with this comes in-the-flow design…then as already mentioned we can shift into 2nd when we are ready for it.
I’m not saying that 2nd gear (Above-the-Flow) is not working now; there are plenty succesful examples of crowdsourcing and enterprise use of social tools, but I just think we need to stay in 1st gear for longer so social tools become the norm…so people don’t even realise that what they are doing is blogging or asking questions in a microblog, etc…
I guess we had Lean and Six Sigma for process improvement, and now we have social computing for knowledge work (which encompasses process improvement). The difference is social computing is not only about process improvement and efficiency, it’s also about effectiveness, connecting, opportunities, emergence, adapting to change, agility. Social computing basically can effect anything, it’s a literacy, a way of being.
Anyway, at last we have realised we have been doing everything in reverse.
Sameer Patel has shared some real examples of how social computing can be embedded into existing business processes that help deal with current pain points that keep executives awake at night.
The unique offerings that social computing enable such as networking and emergence are great, but to get a foot in the executive’s door we need to demonstrate how social computing can remedy existing issues by socialising process tools like CRM and ERM.
"The problem is that, in the context of E2.0, there’s little discussion around performance objectives where social computing constructs and technologies can move the needle on discrete but large scale business solutions. Equally bad is that there’s little thought and discussion around the optimal solutions architecture and combination of process + social that can solve large scale problems that keeps the c-suite awake at night."
"…we ran a 3 hour workshop on how to get executives to understand the business value of social computing in the context of performance goals that keep them up at night. Following that we ran sessions that addressed delivering tangible value in the context of known functions and processes in the enterprise: purpose driven collaboration, reducing customer support costs via social concepts and improving product innovation via social concepts. No tools, no features and frankly no adoption. Just performance acceleration via strategic process and performance alignment"
Sameer shares an example of social + process improving business performance:
"R Ray Wang’s estimate that social computing concepts, when injected into process, actually reduces costs 2 to 4 X times over those very ERP-esq call center/CRM technology driven programs…Contrast that with the fact that traditional CRM systems on their own are often nothing more than glorified reporting systems that sales reps are mandated to use, in exchange for their commission check."
"…data, and intelligence normally buried in closed process centric activity and systems were pushed into people centric social realms for improvement, only then to be put back into process systems in their newer highly optimized forms.
The current poster child for social computing in bed with process is Chatter by Salesforce…Sameer’s review:
"Where unstructured and, really, knowledge access and sharing was conducted directly in email, via Chatterbox, now accountants and finance professionals can now tap into the larger community for expertise and critical customer knowledge to understand exceptions in a process (say, an overdue invoice from an otherwise timely customer)."
"…unless we see a social + process in context, Enterprise 2.0 won’t realize its full potential. Whilst tools certainly won’t provide the solution alone, Chatter has the capability of being the first integrated showcase where social concepts are unleashed to enrichen discrete processes (in this case, closing and keeping customers) towards established performance goals."
This is also in line with a solution to Oscar Berg’s post with a need to marry "social + process" for sales reps. The company he talks of have different divisions of sales reps each offering different services. The key is to cross-pollinate sales across divisions ie. capitalise on opportunity. Oscar mentions the importance of trust and reciprocity for a sales person to take the time to refer, and a need to build rapport to enhance this…but sales within the same area only do a formal meet-up once a year, and meet-ups across divisions don’t happen formally. Standalone social computing isn’t a solution as there really isn’t intrinsic motivation and it isn’t tied to work processes, but socialising current process tools like the CRM may be the answer, as they already use it and trust it. Basically it’s a tool they use to do work, so rather than shifting context to include a social dimension, instead embed social features into the work tool itself:
"They do have a great CRM system that everybody uses and likes. The CRM system makes it possible for them to be aware of any sales activities relating to their customers, including those performed by sales people from other divisions. But it does not connect sales people and make them talk, get to know each other and share leads back and forth. Like most CRM systems, it primarily focuses on planning and keeping track of sales activities, not connecting the individuals in the sales force directly with each other."
Sameer alludes to the shift to social objects, where conversations happen around an object, which I call "conversational metadata".
"…the ability to collaborate around an object ( a lead, a competitor, a customer, a topic) brings process + social closer than ever before."
Which is basically the same as what I mentioned before where my work will soon test a microblogging product within the backdrop of a Document Management System (DMS). A microblogging product at our work embedded into the DMS has much more contextual use and value rather than a standalone platform. Now we have the opportunity to do document review in the document’s comments stream, which feeds into the microblogging companion stream (the activity stream).
Basically we can socialise current processes from a closed and isolated email environment to an open and social object environment. This is solving a current pain point.
And hey, if people want to shift into 2nd gear and use the microblogging tool to do the usual status updates, sharing links, ask questions, looking up profiles, then that’s what we want as well.
Here’s a paper and slidedeck on Sameer’s perspective of social computing, which is much more palatable at an entry level when dealing with current business process issues, as opposed to offering via the 2nd gear angle of better collaboration, networking and awareness.
Andy McAfee’s post on What’s the simplest thing that could possibly work? is not so much about process, but is still related to this post as it’s about designing features in your flow of using existing products. His suggestion is why not embed a search box from your social computing platform into the Intranet. The bulk of the organisation may forget about the social computing platform (yet another site to visit), so embedding it where they live just seems the right thing to do.
All this is a take back to "observable work", in which Jim McGee explains we lost with the digital age. I won’t expand on this here, read my comment on Jim’s post. The premise of Jim’s post being that all the knowledge work is now hidden by default, and not visible as we work digitally…but now social computing is here to take us back.
"As a knowledge worker, much of what I get paid for happens inside my own head. Before the advent of a more or less ubiquitous digital environmesful examples of crowdsourcing used to generate a variety of markers and visible manifestations. That visibility was important in several ways that weren’t evident until they disappeared:
For all the productivity gains that accrue to the digitization of knowledge work, one unintended consequence has been to make the execution of knowledge work essentially invisible, making it harder to manage and improve such work. The benefits of visibility are now something that we need to seek mindfully instead of getting them for free from the work environment”
"Junior members of the team could see how the process unfolded and the product evolved […] Knowledge sharing was a free and valuable side effect of processes that were naturally visible."
Jim has a follow-up post.
Up until now I have spoken about socialising processes as a type of Social BPM, and perhaps these interactions auto-posting into activity feeds (a kind of business intelligence and awareness…see Socialtext Connect), where conversations can further happen around these events.
But as Michael says in the start of this post; it’s also about re-designing processes…I keep linking to Thingamy when I talk about this.
In Thingamy language; socialising ERP (Easily Repeatable Processes) and building BRP (Barely Repeatable Processes).
So far in this post I have been talking about socialising ERP, equally important is what Thingamy deals with and that’s a business modelling tool (as is a spreadsheet) in building BRP.
Here’s an example:
"A desperate call from a chap in the field when a supplier does not show up, a router that goes whirr-kaplunk, or the back and forth of mails prior to getting that big project up on rails. All run and supported by Monday morning meetings, boss meddling, e-mail, faxes, phone calls and to-do lists.
The business processes that’s not even called Business Process. The process orphans. The nuisance. The stuff that actually take most of our time. What I’d call Business Practices.
I wonder what the gain would be if the Practices could be as efficiently handled as the proper Processes?
A lot? A whooping gigantic leap!"
Here’s a related link.
This is related to my post on ad-hoc processes, and to what Jordan Frank says about the uniqueness of social tools in that they help you improvise to get your work done when things go wrong or circumstances change…we currently use email and attachement as our survival tool.
Let’s not leave out both Google Wave and Activities on Lotus Connections, which also focus on ad-hoc work, and the idea of Activity templates and checklists is a natural step, saving people to entirely think about the whole process eg. if you organise a conference using "Activities" you can not only share your activity for others to see, but also create a template based on your experience, that others may use as good practice and re-frame to their context.
Another tool that I failed to mention in the "Real Examples" section is SAP Streamwork:
"More often than not, collaboration and decision-making is a hodge-podge of emails, one-on-one phone calls, conference calls, in-person meetings, and informal desk visits. It’s rare that a group ends up with a unified view of how a decision was reached - or a complete record of next steps and task owners.
In short, it’s meant to help orchestrate ad hoc work that would otherwise lack a structured process flow. It’s a place where outcomes are recorded for future reference."
Sig from Thingamy sets things straight in saying that SAP’s tool is not a process engine. Thingamy is more than just doing ad-hoc work in an enabling open and social way, it’s actually a DIY flow tool…you assemble the tool to your context or should I say to your Barely Repeatable Process.
Like my coverage of Rex Lee’s post on social engineering, Jordan Frank (from Traction Software) has a follow-up post on the same meme, based on structuring for emergence; he has coined it "Emergineering".
Jordan talks about using unstructured tools to reinvent current business processes, I like a quote in his post:
"E2.0 (doing architecture for people) vs. E1.0 (doing architecture to people)."
Jordan said somewhere (I can’t remember where) that these adhoc processes leave behind artefacts, not just content but also how the adhoc process was structured on the fly…he often talks about the effectiveness of tags as a key aspect to using social tools in a process. I agree adhoc collaboration can leave behind tracemarks of how you did your workaround, these tracemarks can later be re-used in a looseway, like templates that you can mould to your context, kind of a skeleton process that you can base your process on…like Jordan’s work partner Greg Lloyd calls "lightweight coordination".
I really think it’s great that Jordan and Greg can stretch their tool to work for social processes, and this and general social computing is their niche. Thingamy doesn’t do this, but it does something unique which puts it into an extreme niche of it’s own…it’s not really about social computing but more about noticing the tracemarks from past practices (BRP) and assembling a DIY process which can be dismantled or renovated by it’s owner at any time…design is perpetual and the power of design is with the buyer.
Jim McGee cautions turning judgement calls into rule-based aspects of a process…but this is the key to Jordan and Greg’s (as well as Sig’s thinking) in that you can sculpture the process, so it’s not rigid. We live in a world where things are now being done "post" by the user, rather than "pre" by the software designer eg. user tags, rather than just librarian categories.
Jim also says some real things about culture saying you cannot manipulate it, it moreso emerges from new behaviours. Which means we need to create conditions for engagement, where everything else cascades.
Which also reminds me of something Victor Newman says that
"…culture is a by-product of a technology stabilization process"
BPR to SPR redux
Jordan Frank clears up the difference between BPR (Business Process Re-engineering) and SPR (Social Process Re-engineering).
SPR is more people-centric with unknown outcomes, it’s about understanding how things are practiced and structuring for emergence, and can complement BPR which is more predictable, about optimisation, and is outcome driven.
Gee this sounds like the difference in how KM has been managed in the past and how social computing is influencing a new way for it to be managed, moreso facilitated.
Are BPR and BPM the same thing? Sandy Kemsley calls Business Process Management:
"A management discipline for improving cross-functional business processes"
Mike Gotta relates BPR tools to a form-follows-function design:
"Systems designed to support functional requirements do provide ways for workers to contribute, however the contributions are part of their explicit work actions and generally known ahead of time. Such systems cannot effectively support contribution scenarios not captured as part of the design process. Those involved in the application design process often place little effort on requirements that address the social and emergent aspects of communication, information sharing and collaboration. Workers resort to e-mail to solve such contribution gaps - a key reason why e-mail remains the most popular tool used by workers to express themselves. E-mail is one of the few universal tools workers have access to that allows contributions in a free-form manner."
SBPR as middleground
Is SBPR (Social Business Process Re-engineering) the middle ground ie social features on existing BPR tools, like I mentioned earlier about the Support database that has a message feature, rather than having to hop over to a forum that lives elsewhere…and like the social CRM tools Sameer has posted about.
And further to this, which I mention further down, being able to build features/connectors into existing BPR tools…or maybe that’s for OpenSource…but let’s not forget Qontext.
Adaptive Case Management (ACM)
Now is this similar to Jordan’s "re-emergineering" concept" of SPR?
Keith Swenson has authored a book on ACM called "Mastering the unpredictable"..and what’s interesting is that it seems ACM is very similar to KM in that it talks about non-routine, unpredictable work…what we call knowledge work. Another way of looking at it is when not to use BPM.
He describes ACM (with examples) in relation to knowledge work and in contrast to BPM:
"Process technologies such as workflow and BPM have delivered well-proven ROI when the process is predictable and repeatable. In contrast, knowledge work involves processes where goals and certain tasks are well established, yet the exact sequences of these varies from with each case. These processes are not nearly predictable as those found with traditional applications of BPM and workflow, but the need for achieving productivity in knowledge work has never been greater.
For example, the course of treatments for a patient are not predictable at the time of admission to a hospital, but testing and treatment has to begin without a fixed plan. The course of court case is not predictable, but it is still very important that everything is prosecuted correctly. Negotiations as specialized as the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or as common as the merger of two companies, all are examples of goal-driven processes where the specific paths to completeness are not predictable at any detailed level.
A promising solution for achieving productivity in the goal-driven processes of knowledge work can be found in new approach called “Adaptive Case Management” which is a combination of traditional Case Management, with strong Process and Analytics capabilities."
"When a process is not predictable, as is the case with knowledge work in general, then putting a lot of work into an elaborate diagram is not worth while. Because the process is emergent, you have to model the process using something that people can read, add to, and manipulate readily while they are doing other things. With knowledge work, it is not the case that you have a dedicated business analyst to work and get the process model just right; instead the actual case worker needs to do it on the fly.
…with case management, where a process is modified and adapted to each individual situation, this extra effort is not justified. The people modifying this process are not trained experts in process, but instead are more worried about their job done. The case owner is responsible for process, and need the freedom to customize the process for the specific case"
And just to be clear:
"Case Management is a technique that is useful when processes are not repeatable. A case represents a situation without necessarily requiring a process. Case management can be used for one-off situations for which the process can not be predicted in advance. A practitioner of case management needs a different kind of support: instead of tools to aid in the elaborate design and optimization of a process up front, a case manager need a way to communicate goals and intent.
In short, case management is useful when the process is unpredictable, or at least not repeatable enough to warrant the up front investment in perfecting the process."
ACM is data-centric, rather than process-centric
Like Sameer, Hutch and Sig (mentioned earlier in this post), and in addition to the examples above, Keith goes into more detail on an example of knowledge work, which is moreso based on data, tools and connection rather than defined processes:
"…case management is data centric. This is correct, because when the process is not predictable, how can you use the process as the organizing principle? Since you can’t, what else is there: data. The example: a patient, and this is a good example; in a case management system you organize all the actions around the patient and the patient record, which *must* exist in advance, and through the entire treatment of the patient.
Can you imagine Dr. House sitting down and drawing a BPMN diagram at that point? Can you imagine Dr. Cuddy drawing that diagram? Of course not. The event would be gone before the diagram was drawn. The “real-time” events that occur in these situations are not predictable, and would need to be handled without process modeling"
Exactly, tell that to a windmill repairman. I’m sure there are repeatable processes, but when they encounter something they have not seen before and you are 60 feet up, access to microblogging on your phone in order to ask a question and connect as it happens is knowledge work in action. Oh no, hang on a second I will visit the best practice database from way up here…NOT!
More examples of knowledge work:
"…doctor’s job of diagnosing a rare disease; the negotiation of a treaty or a corporate merger; the investigation of a crime; or the prosecution of a court case. These are jobs that can not predicted at the time the job is started. It is not simply that we have not gone to the trouble of mapping the process, but the process is not knowable, because the details that effect the course are not yet discovered."
Jacob Ukelson explains where after planning; in the execution stage is where ad-hoc work proliferates:
"…there are many excellent tools out there to help plan projects and keep them on track, but in most cases for project execution, tracking and management everyone falls back on the tried and true methods of email and documents. There is a project owner who defines specific project related goals and checklists, but that is it - everything else is managed on the fly by the participants themsleves and guided by the project owner.
…at a Board of Directors meeting any number of decisions are made that require a follow-on process…that request quite often turns into a full-fledged, ad-hoc process that can involve quite a few people and needs to be managed. Again the tools of preference for executing these processes are email and documents. No one would even consider modeling the process, especially since it probably isn’t completely understood until it starts executing…"
Design by doing
Keith Swenson talks about social process designers, rather than just users of socialised BPM tools that have been designed by the vendor:
"Ask yourself: who is it that does BPM? The developers (process analysts, programmers) are the ones doing BPM. We are not talking about the end-user doing BPM. The end user does business, not BPM. The BPM supports the user in doing this business, but those users are not doing BPM when they use a fully developed process application.
"The proper use of social software in the business will eliminate the need for process designers. Everyone will be a designer, in the way that everyone is a writer in the blogosphere."
Keith points to Jun Sinur on the difference between designing upfront, or desiging as it happens:
To be more succinct:
Max Pucher -
"Endusers do not just influence the design, they actually create the process on the fly.“
Keith Swenson -
"This is really key: adaptive processes are not pre-defined as processes, but only really become processes when the components are assembled at run time by the user."
BTW - In my last post on ad-hoc processes I posted about Jacob Ukelson’s (from ActionBase) concept of "Human Process Management", which is now considered ACM. Jacob has a really good presentation on ACM and knowledge work, and I also like how Jacob talks about an equilibrium of both structured and unstructured work.
Anyway, does ACM sound very similar to adhoc work and exception handling that we evangelise social computing can enhance? I think so. This is the next move that Hutch Carpenter talks about where we are moving on from social apps as a place to talk about things in general (which has its place) to putting these to work as features of existing processes, and ACM is a good convergence.
Maybe I should have called this post BPM 2.0, but not really because the knowledge work we are talking about is not pre-planned into a process flow…BPM 2.0 and ACM are different in the fundamentals, but I expect we will hear these words interchanged.
BPM 2.0 (SBPR or SBPM) would be more about socialising certain aspects of the pre-planned process, and perhaps even be able to do some ad-hoc work, whereas ACM (SPR) is adhoc and uncertain from the outset.
This Social BPM webcast covers the aspects nicely…but it misses out the "SPR, emergineering, ACM" constructs about adhoc work from the word "go", rather than just socialising existing BPM tools.
The difference is in the modelling:
"…a doctor will design the treatment plan for a patient while the patient is being treated. A judge will design the course of action for a case while presiding over a court. An executive will design the action plan while running the board meeting. At a very abstract level, you could say that these are process modeling activities - but in reality these are done in a starkly different way that bears no resemblance to anything we know of as process modeling in BPM
…the practice of case management is not just BPM “done on the fly”. A case manager is not primarily concerned with modeling, automating, executing, controlling, measuring, and optimizing the flow of business activities. A case manager, instead, wants to get things done. Case management is concerned with representations of goals…while in BPM the goals drive the design of the process, but are not made explicit. In in the practice of BPM, you want to perfect the processes to be repeatable thousands of times, but case management is not about mass production, but about making a one-off custom solution for this one situation that will probably never happen again, so extra effort to make the case repeatable is wasted. "
"…the dichotomy between orderly processes (read BPM) and the fuzzy world of Social Software (read Enterprise 2.0)
Bertrand talks about three business activities:
- Serendipity (connecting)
- Adhoc processes (where BPR isn’t suitable, and where we currently use email and attachments)
- Social computing has mainly been focused on point 1
- And then moved onto point 3 (but we still haven’t got this right, it’s not quite yet pervasive or specific…Thingamy is a stand out, and in a different way so is Activities on Lotus Connections and perhaps ActionBase)
- And now we are tackling to socialise point 2
With all three we can connect, be aware, surface opportunties; we can deal with uncertainties and collaborate; and we can optimise stable patterns for predictable outcomes (BPR) but in a way that they can be flexible to deal with the unknown that comes fleeting towards us.
- Social BPR is about product designers socialising their products eg. Chatter
- What about being able to renovate existing BPR tools yourself, kind of like how 3rd parties make Twitter extensible (an emergence of architecture), is Qontext this tool I imagine
- What we want is BPR to have flavours of Point 1 and 3…allowing room or capability to reach out (connect to people) and less rigid, and room to improvise (flex the structure to cater for ad-hoc contexts, without having to leave to use another tool).
- A tool like Thingamy is like building the product yourself
- ActionBase is a new task based version of email (in the same league as Google Wave and Activites on Lotus Connections)
Further on in Martin’s post he lists what Enterprise 2.0 means to organisational departments. The one we are familiar with is KM and Learning, where the focus is sharing, collective intelligence, emergence, sense-making. A lot of the time this is what we think Enterprise 2.0 is, but this is more KM 2.0. What about the other departments, they too want to fix their pain points, they want to have better and looser processes, see Sameer Patel’s post where he mentions that it’s not all about emergence and bottom-up use, it’s also about explicitly designing social ways into existing business processes.
Socialising processes is more of a sure bet in getting social computing adopted (the new way of doing things eg. conversing in the open, observable work, socialised workarounds).
But when we talk of real enterprise 2.0, or a transformation of the enterprise, it’s a shift from process to network based organisations, which I will post about soon.
In considering this, I still think socialising business processes is the first stepping stone in both a cultural and productive point of view…getting people prepared.
For now the key is that we are no longer to be limited by design, and using a leadership metaphor we can now be the conductor!
Actually a good metaphor for this whole post is for organisations to be less rigid and more jazz-like where we can improvise and come together at check points. Stephen Shapiro says:
"Most businesses are run like classical symphonies - long, with elaborate compositions (detailed workflows) that leave little room for interpretation. Employees are expected to follow these compositions rote.
Unfortunately, by the time they learn the score, the music would have to be changed. This organizational symphony no longer works in today’s age of change.
Instead we need jazz-like organizations. Innovation is not random. In fact, it emerges best when there is a structure to nurture it, much like jazz in the world of music. Jazz is heavy on innovation (’improvisation’ in musical terms). Just as innovation is not random, neither is improvisation. Jazz has a simple structure, like 12-bar, B-flat blues. It has a rhythm, chord progression, and tempo.
Businesses need much the same to succeed: Simple structures that allow innovation to emerge, in the moment, when it is needed most."