Why Social BPM will sink as the Social Enterprise fire rises

The Grim Reaper is on the prowl again and this time his scythe is slicing through the misnomer formerly known as Social BPM. While I championed it a lot on Redux over the last couple of years it became apparent late on that the Social BPM ‘phenomenon’ was ill conceived and little more than social tools tagged onto BPMS. The promise of more connected and socialised business change didn’t really take off and I blame BPM itself because it didn’t know what to really do with it for one, and the fact that change must involve people in the first place means it’s already a social event. Lipstick on a pig, as Ian Gotts once wrote.

So maybe it’s time for the industry to move off the Social BPM bandwagon and concentrate efforts on the concepts around Social Enterprise. Why ? Well, the enterprise encompasses everything within in and social business transformation will affect its very DNA. People need to stop thinking about simple technology and start thinking culturally. I call it the ‘no shit, Sherlock’ moment, that lightbulb that suddenly goes from being very dim to very bright when someone finally realises that a functional organisation can no longer exist in a socially dynamic business world.

Let me play with an analogy here; you can’t stick a Porsche engine in a VW Beetle and expect it to perform like a Porsche. Roughly translated in BPM speak, you can’t shove a 21st century concept in a 19th century organisation and expect it to perform either. Why ? Because it’s still built internally like a Veedub. Which goes back to the repost I just tweeted about losing old hierarchical structures.

I’m a firm believer in the social paradigm but time and again have said it goes way beyond the simple applications vendors are dreaming up right now. Not only that but realistically are the methodologies we use today actually fit for purpose in today’s age ? No. If we’re looking to understand and streamline/ improve/ optimise processes and systems shouldn’t we look at how the internal social business network actually operates ?

  • Who are the brokers of information ? In reality it’s not data owners but individuals within the organisation that people go to. They’re not necessarily the Subject Matter Experts either, be careful you don’t fall into that trap. In sociology and network analysis it’s all about centrality.
  • How dense are the informal groups that people operate within ? I’m not talking about business divisions and formalised hierarchies, I’m eluding to the underground network of people who are connected to each other, what their sphere of influence is.
  • Who is really connected in the enterprise and why ?

Remember the Cabal process from Valve I wrote about last year ?

Lateral communication ?

How HR could be revolutionised by examining internal networks ?

They’re all pointers to how Social Enterprise tools and methodologies can really create an adaptive organisation. When I read ‘organisation’ I think of ‘organic’ in the context of Social, not ‘organised’.

I’ve yet to see much in the way of newer adaptive BPM and Change methodologies being talked about for changing a stalwart hierarchical business model into a dynamic and socially aware enterprise, or flexible target operating models which lose the traditional functional approaches. I’ve seen a few really good presentations discussing the discovery of organic team building using social tools but then fall short when they launch into functional discussions. It seems the final push just is a bridge too far for some to suggest before being called a crackpot for thinking an organisation can function without a silo.

Well, I’m glad I’m a crackpot so let the Social Enterprise fire rise.

Deshay Basara.



7 responses to “Why Social BPM will sink as the Social Enterprise fire rises

  1. I think this assessment is missing a key piece. For me it was always going to be social enterprise, but I will achieve that through BPMS. Business process provides the context for the business social interaction, exactly as pictures drive the context for Facebook.

    Enterprise social will hinge on what needs to happen, what interesting report came along, what just occurred that is noteworthy — and on the social interactive commentary and related actions on those events from the community of users.

    These events — the actions and reports — are all driven from BPMS. I fully expect that once I reach critical mass in BPMS across my organization, an integrated social feed on the event stream should (or could, a least) drive a robust social stream in parallel.

    I’m very interested to hear from others who have already experienced success or failure ahead of me on this path.

    • Hi Dave,

      Read my more recent post(s), I don’t think BPMS as we know it can really deliver this. Do you really think having an integrated event stream will drive the kind of change towards a social enterprise ?
      The future of enterprise social doesn’t lie with BPMS but with social workflow concepts that have been built from the ground up, not cobbled together on the existing stack because the analyst bandwagon has dictated it so.
      And how are you driving process change method using these tools ? Or are you still stuck with Lean/ SS/ Deming et al from the 80s…. ?

      • But we’re not cobbling it together — we’re building it from the ground up! At SNL we are rebuilding our workflow, and we’re prototyping an integrated social stream. Or perhaps put another way — we’re prototyping social interaction within the event stream. In this way, through BPMS, I hope we can achieve social enterprise.

  2. Pingback: Social vs Social | BPM redux·

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