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Monday, November 21, 2005

The End of Process - No Way

Ross Mayfield asks that if a knowledge worker has the organization's information in a social context at their finger tips, and the organization is sufficiently connected to tap experts and form groups instantly to resolve exceptions - is there a role for business process.Quoting Clay Shirky "process is an embedded reaction to prior stupidity", he adds that there was an exception to process and an expert designed a way for people to work together in one context that should fit all prior contexts. The problem is, the process becomes calcified and accepted as the rule. After all, it's a rule, and in corporations we follow them, even if it fails us or simply doesn't make sense. Because of constant change in our environment, processes are outdated the immediately after they are designed. The 90s business process re-engineering model intended to introduce change, but was driven by experts which simply delivered another set of frozen processes.Claiming some some staid corporations are abandoning process all together,he believes that at best a process should serve as a reference model - something that others can reference when completing a task & can be leveraged for innovation, a boundary condition for experimentation at the margin and concludes that the first organizations bringing it to an end will have a decided competitive advantage.
Jeff Nolan provides the best perspective( I fully agree with his views on this topic)- He points out that the automation of processes is not perfect, certainly, but like democracies it is better than the alternative. There are a great many things in the modern enterprise that will benefit from ad-hoc and freeform collaboration but in no way will these technologies displace the fundamental machinery that companies rely on day in and day out.. and that's all process based. Tom Davenport viewed that the speed with which some businesses have already adopted process standards suggests that many previously unscrutinized areas are ripe for change. For companies that don't have process standards in place, it makes sense for them to create standards by working with customers, competitors, software providers, businesses that processes may be outsourced to, and objective researchers and standard-setters. Setting standards is likely to lead to the improvement of both internal and outsourced processes. In a computerworld interview Tom adds When business processes become commodities, all the rules change in ways that can revolutionize business. For virtually anybody, a standard process can be a starting point—a point of departure from which to design a new process. When people are designing organizational charts, they often look at other organizational charts. It also simplifies the commodity stuff that people do. There are so many processes in an organization that don't confer any competitive advantage, and doing them in an innovative way wouldn't make much difference to revenues or profits. So you might as well do them in a standard way. And application packages all assume some sort of process by which they're used. Process activity & flow, Process performance, Process management - these are among the evolving standards that business needs to relate to their business functions and activities to leverage process advantage better. Barry Briggs makes the best assessment when he calls this decade as the decade of process. He rightly sees that in many ways business process is by far the most important and valuable form of collaboration since while e-mail, instant messaging, and shared workspaces facilitate communication, business process achieves business goals. When a customer buys something on the web site, a process is set in motion which at its conclusion results in the customer receiving goods and the enterprise, money. Where the eighties were known as the decade of productivity applications - spreadsheets, word processors, and so on, the nineties as the decade of email and the Internet, this decade, starting now (isn't it interesting that software waves start around the middle of the chronological decade), will be the Decade of Process

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"All views expressed are my personal views are not related in any way to my employer"