Following discussions in the LinkedIn ACM Group I am presenting here the shortest possible definition of Adaptive Process. I propose that it involves three distinct paradigm shifts:
- Adaptive Process is a productive system that deploys not only the organization and process structure but through backend interfaces becomes the system of record for the business data entities and content involved. All processes are completely transparent as per access authorization and fully auditable.
- Adaptive Process enables non-technical business users in virtual organizations to seamlessly create/consolidate structured and unstructured processes from basic predefined business entities, content, social interactions, and business rules to achieve verifiable goals.
- Adaptive Process moves the process knowledge gathering in the life cycle from the template analysis/modeling/simulation phase into the process execution. The AP system collects actionable knowledge – without intermediate analysis phase – based on process patterns created by business users.
I am distinguishing now between Adaptive Case Management – which is described by most as an enhancement over Case Management – and Adaptive Process. Adaptive Process software can also be used for ACM, but not vice versa. Additionaly, Adaptive Process requires to enhance business strategy from top-down authority with bottom-up empowerment. It means to accept AND UTILIZE the reality of emerging hierarchies and processes, rather than wasting a lot of energy fighting against it. ACM makes sense as it is non-competitive to BPM concepts and fills the gap between enhanced (human-dynamic-agile) BPM and Case Management. Adaptive Process REPLACES existing BPM software that reduces the adaptability and resilience of a business.
Adaptive Process does not simply enhance BPM with unstructured processes. Case Management enables unstructured collaboration but it does not collect actionable knowledge from the process. Yes, AP seems to be quite effective for knowledge workers, but there is no reason why it would not provide similar benefits to any business activity by any person inside or outside the organisation. That has to do with a very limited view of business processes from a conceptual preset BPM perspective only. Structured or predictable processes are only those that apparently can’t be improved any further or seem to have no need to change. Projects pick those because BPM methodology, modelling and software are so limited and can only bring cost reductions there. It is not what the business really needs …
What are my requirements for Adaptive Process based on? From a real world perspective all processes are human perception ONLY. They are abstract simplifications that do not exist in reality, because it is impossible to analyse and model all complex relationships and dependencies. In a purely classical physical world (mechanics and electronics) modelling is more realistically possible (up to a point as otherwise chip production would always yield 100% and machines would not break). But lets return from philosophy (and quantum physics, by the way).
In reality everything that happens (any action that is taken by a person), happens because it is caused by a mental match to a knowledge/perception pattern. That we think it is a process is related to the sequential relative memory path of our brain. We do not remember in pictures but in things in sequence, relative and change. Just because things happened in sequence, it is not yet a process and one event does not have to cause another. So far so good. Another step back to BPM.
You can now take BPM as a management concept and say that it has nothing to do with process management as a technology. Correct. Most business consultants sell that aspect of their work and the weaker the management and employees are the more they can benefit from BPM guidance. A great organisation with great people will be destroyed by BPM (as a concept not yet software) because their initiative and intuitive work focus is destroyed. Their perception patterns created successful outcomes and now they can’t do that anymore.
Think about it: Without BPM, business processes in any organization DO continuously adapt. Maybe not in a desired direction if the management isn’t any good. They will be using whatever means at their disposal to do so. Paper and pencil will work fine. But they will adapt because the individual agents make it a complex adaptive system and not a simplified complicated one. If you now bring in BPM, as a first step you kill that natural ability through the mandatory simplification. That is the destructive danger of BPM I am so outspoken against. Ideally we can bring in a system that will not take away the natural adaptive capability but enhance it and make the outcomes and individual perception patterns transparent for improvement.
I propose that based on a Business Architecture, Adaptive Process technology must expose structured (business data) and unstructured (content) information to the members of structured (business) and unstructured (social) organizations to securely execute towards verifiable goals – using knowledge gathered INTERACTIVELY in previous instances – structured (process) and unstructured (case) work in a transparent and auditable manner.