ACM is Dead! Long live ADAPTIVE!

William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
Julius Caesar
Act III. Scene II.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious;
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest,
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men, …

Anyone with a shred of education knows these lines from Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar. They are applicable to so many things that people of influence do and thus have been used many times as metaphor.

ACM, like BPM and all other like acronyms or concepts of human interaction are human creations. In most cases these creations come from good intentions. We clearly had good intentions when we tried to define the ACM concept over a year ago. Many good people were involved and the impact of ‘Mastering the Unpredictable’ on the marketplace has shown that it was timely and right.

For a little while ACM was our king, but like in the Roman senate there are many different interests and hidden intentions that did not allow us to come to a conclusion how we want to serve that king as a ruler of our customer focused business strategy. And while they are all ‘honourable men’ we failed to put aside our differences.

There was never a doubt that we all live in the ‘BPM State’, while we have different ideas how to govern it. Many ACM proponents feel that a lesser definition will allow to include more aspects and more vendors. That is a mistake. Opportunistic coalition governments of many different small fractions ALWAYS collapse sooner than later. I feel that we have missed the opportunity of truly advancing process management with the limited ACM approach. Dynamic Case and Process Management are now seen as like definitions to ACM. It should be however not just about ‘unpredictable’ work items, but about a more globally encompassing technology approach that is linked to business architecture and strategy. I defined what I saw as relevant for business – and not as market segments or product categories – shortly after the ACM acronym was chosen in a post on Adaptive Processes. But so be it. I rather be Brutus and end this senseless debate to focus on what businesses truly need.

‘I come to bury ACM, not to praise it.’

The ACM Awards invitation delivered the deadly stab to ACM by aliging it with DCM. While its ACM links point to my original definition, Forrester’s DCM focuses on ‘dynamic’ changes. Why do we then bother to retain an overlapping acronym? ACM will thus remain a subset of functionality of the process management domain, that tries to scrape a living from the leftovers of CLOUD, CROWD, SOCIAL, and MOBILE BPM monikers. Many incumbent BPM vendors have already included the terminology and some functionality into their products. Their different ways do allow to achieve the support for unpredictably progressing processes. What is it that ACM then could claim to do differently?

What will not die is the ADAPTIVE paradigm, that – much as the principle ideas of freedom and democracy – will continue to guide those who do believe that people empowerment is the way forward. Those who believe in strict process governance, because they can’t believe that people can govern themselves with a limited set of guiding rules, will have to learn the hard way. The dynamics of natural evolution will create the tension that will eventually break the chains of rigid processes.

ADAPTIVE is not just another moniker as anyone who bothers to read what I have openly proposed and suggested in my writing can see. What I propose with the ADAPTIVE paradigm is a focus on business strategy and architecture that just like in a functioning modern state provides the structure for a separation of powers, such as law makers and courts versus police and military. It is that social contract that provides the room in which people can live as they chose and free of fear. In ADAPTIVE that structure enables the focus on individual goals and outcomes as an embedded functionality of the empowerment technology while guided by the business strategy. Clearly, most vendors do not have that capability and thus they oppose that definition.

The ADAPTIVE paradigm needs technology empowerment similar to SOCIAL, but in difference it provides the top-down and bottom-up transparency that is at the core of all democratic systems.

Yes, ACM and ‘Mastering The Unpredictable’ have clearly influenced and changed the BPM marketplace, but maybe we should let it die in peace. I am proud to be part of the ACM movement, but I need to move on. I see no point in acronym turfwars. SO:

ACM is dead! Long live ADAPTIVE!

PS: Obviously ACM, Dynamic BPM and Dynamic Case Management and all other agile, context-aware and social monikers will remain and flourish and continue to cause confusion. I am just tired of that discussion …

I am the founder and Chief Technology Officer of Papyrus Software, a medium size software company offering solutions in communications and process management around the globe. I am also the owner and CEO of MJP Racing, a motorsports company focused on Rallycross or RX, a form of circuit racing on mixed surfaces that has been around for 40 years. I hold 8 national and international championship titles in RX. My team participates in the World Championship along Petter Solberg, Sebastian Loeb and Ken Block.

Posted in Adaptive Case Management, Adaptive Process, BPM
11 comments on “ACM is Dead! Long live ADAPTIVE!
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Freddie van Rijswijk and Mark Tamis, Max J. Pucher. Max J. Pucher said: ACM is Dead! Long live ADAPTIVE!: #ACM #BPM […]


  2. The most important part is ADAPTIVE, so I believe you are spot on….

    The only thing is, analysts, business managers and inhouse IT need to have a definition of what something is, and terms such as ACM etc are the things that many hold on to to understand differences between vendor offerings.

    In many ways, its all about marketing…


  3. […] actually, Max J. Pucher is declaring ACM dead, and Adaptive as the worthy successor to ACM (“ACM is Dead! Long live ADAPTIVE!“).  But the article overall is curious – because it marks an official departure from […]


  4. HI Max.

    Its a good post, and one I am not surprised to see you writting. As you know, I felt ACM is a limiting “name” or “tag” to place on your ideas, as they stretch far wider than what many would see as Case Management (and therefore ACM).

    Your points for ADAPTIVE reach far wider than just the narrow minded focus of most BPM vendors and analysts. So with that in mind I think this is a wise move and ensures more focus is placed on what matters, which is the ADAPTIVE needs of business…

    As you know I have been working hard with workFile to realise a single adaptive platform concept for their ECM, CRM, BPM and BI, this feeds into your ADAPTIVE thinking and a holistic approach to solving business problems…


  5. […] I read Max J. Pucher’s blog post “ACM is Dead! Long live ADAPTIVE!” and I really wasn’t surprised…Many are surprised though, as it sees one of ACMs […]


  6. Hi Andrew, thanks for reading and commenting. I do not see ACM as limiting, others do. I stand fully behind ACM and its ideas, but not only.

    Clearly, this IS NOT A MOVE that I take as can easily be understood from every post that I have written in the last year. Take for example this one:

    My holistic direction has simply not be accepted by the other proponents and thus ACM will remain a subset.

    Let me point out that you will need to be much clearer as to what APG should encompass to not make it look like a copy of ACM. I am still waiting for that definition of yours …

    Thanks again, Max


  7. The approach of adaptivity remembers me the approach of anarchy. The knowledge user is the only responsible for the case. He decides what to do next within the context of some rules, especially goals. The rules may be set by all knowledge workers in respect to the goals. In the best case, the goals are set in consens with all knowledge workers because the know best which goals should fit.
    So there is much freedom for knowledge worker to decide slef determined and there are as much rules as needed to control, that the set goals will be reached.
    And because of the freedom of how to work best the knowledge workers can quickly adapted better ways to reach the goals if necessary.
    And the adaptive system will observe the way of how the workers are dealing the cases and will suggest usefull functions for the next step.
    Isn´t this way to work somewhat anarchical?


  8. Martin, thank you for the comment. These are important questions.

    Anarchy is typically considered a state of lawlessness! Often, it describes the absence of a recognized government or law enforcement. Some use the term to describe an absolute direct democracy (libertarianism). Direct democracies (Switzerland & California for example) usually have too many rules as they serve too many interests. So I would not use anarchy to describe adaptive. I would use the terms freedom, democracy and free markets to describe the social environment created by ADAPTIVE processes.

    But let me reiterate why ADAPTIVE is not anarchy:

    1) Adaptive works best with a business strategy and architecture.
    2) These define the objectives, targets and outcomes.
    3) From these process goals are derived and linked.
    4) Principles and legal compliance are defined in rules.
    5) The business architecture defines the end-to-end process outcomes and thus the necessary process owners.
    6) Within those boundaries the process owners and their knowledge workers are free to create and adapt processes that fulfill the goals. Some processes may need to be rigid.
    7) Targets and outcomes are directly monitored and because they are linked to process goals there is the transparency for the POs and KWs to adapt them each time there is a mismatch.

    So there is no anarchy, because the strategy, architecture and rules create a business ‘fairway’ on which the POs and KWs can play their best game to achieve customer outcomes.

    The reason that I promote ADAPTIVE is the same why others promote SOCIAL. Adaptive provides more direct control to improve outcomes immediately by the POs and KWs than Social BPM. ADAPTIVE creates opportunity and potential. The question is if an organization (mostly management) is willing to utlitize the power of natural evolution and emergence.


  9. […] ACM – Max J. Pucher I feel that we have missed the opportunity of truly advancing process […]


  10. […] definition of it, to avoid the general fate BPM. I tried to create some noise by proposing that ACM is dying and it was mostly ignored. That is fine too […]


  11. […] it the Outcome-Orientation, as Outside-In or Adaptive approach or ACM suggest? I’m completely in line with the importance of the same, the fact remains that it […]


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Max J. Pucher
© 2007-19

by Max J. Pucher. All rights reserved.

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