Monday, September 5, 2011

The mantra is dead, long live the mantra!

By: Dick van Mersbergen

In a recent blog entry, Peter Evans-Greenwood gives his view on the current shift in business process management. His analysis matches the basis of the Be Informed philosophy.

Since Frederick Taylor’s time we’ve considered business vast machines to be improved. His mantra: Define tasks and then fit men to the task. By reducing inefficiencies you will be able to optimize you business and eventually you will have the perfect organization. Driven by this mentality we automated processes. At first small repetitive tasks, later on the interactions between these tasks, resulting in full-blown Business Process Management (BPM) applications. We dreamt of a single technology platform which will allow us to program our entire business: business operating platforms. This seemed to good to be true. And it proved to be.

The first problem is that programming is the automation of the known. Business processes, however, are the management and anticipation of the unknown. A business is not a computer. Secondly, the world of business is becoming unstable. In the past instability occurred as a transition between two stable states, but this time business seems not to settle into a new groove. The instability we’re seeing is here to stay: the only remaining constant is instability itself. The environment we operate keeps changing, pushing us to become externally focused, rather than internally focused.

It is clear we’ve reached Taylorism’s use-by date: his mantra no longer works. So what do we replace the Taylor’s mantra with?

There has been some steps in the right direction, with the emergence of Adaptive Case Management (ACM) -or Dynamic Case Management (DCM) as we call it- being the most obvious one. When the process is triggered (for example by an online application, a phone call, whatever), a knowledge worker creates a case and starts building a context by pulling data in and triggering small workflows or business processes to seek out data and resolve problems. At some stage the context will be complete, the exception resolved, and the final action is triggered. Using DCM, your business is goal oriented, flexible and keeps adapting to its complex and ever changing environment.

The mantra is dead, long live the mantra: Identify the goal and assemble the team to achieve the goal.