Democratizing BPM and the networked value chain

I have a particular problem with BPM ‘centers of excellence’ or ‘competency centers’ in today’s organic enterprises. The impact of social internally and externally has yet to be fully realised outside of the technology sphere because we are still stuck in traditional ways of control through hierarchy and bureaucracy, and these old ideas of centralised command and control centers for BPM aren’t helping.

I’ve written how loose structures promote creativity before, self organising networks that expose hidden talents and true experts, the mines of information between workers informally. I’ve also written before about how the BPM methodology and organisational makeup need to adapt to these changes too, that an understanding of sociology and networking analysis needs to be taken into account now.

So where does this lead ?

If we take the self organising network idea a step further (and this is a human trait, we seek people out, hence the inspiration and creativity aspect) could we begin to witness social networks per value chain or per process ? I know, I know, it sounds like just another chinese wall or silo under a different name, so let me chew the fat here openly.

Take a typical Mortgage process end to end; we have the customer, sales/ origination, application, underwriting, legals (external), insurance, funding, administration, arrears, closure. Across this chain they are all in their own silo doing their small piece, seldom interacting save for a diary entry that pops up in workflow or case software. If we networked every participant over the entire mortgage chain there may be a lot of noise and chatter at first but it would very quickly settle and organise itself into something far more efficient than dictated to in a rigid process. People would readily seek one another out and form mini-cabals or powerhouses. There would be no ‘process owner’ as such, no thorny problem of trying to assign ownership of an entire process chain to one person (let’s face it, the reality of accountability for a value chain makes management run for the hills no matter how you sugarcoat it) as it would be co-owned by everyone in that network, and because of this transparent sense of accountability every participant would have a vested interest in making it work. The process itself would have a sense of ‘self’ in a way and it would evolve a lot faster because of the social interactivity.

Yes it’s all a crazy notion for now…….isn’t it ?

When analysts and vendors talk about the democratising of BPM this is really what it means, power back to the people in the process. A true ‘social enterprise’ needs this kind of open culture, not a single silo full of process elite that offer ‘consultancy’ to other silos.

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one” as Spock would say.


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