ACM is Dead! Long live ADAPTIVE!
William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
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 …