Is Adaptive Case Management for Work, or for work?

I was reading a blog post by Michael Bernstein (Clay Shirky: Doing work, or Doing Work?) on Clay Shirky’s keynote to the CSCW conference about the different requirements from systems built to support Work (Work – with a capital W – is what we have considered for years: your boss tells you to do something, you do it, and you get paid) vs. those that need to support work (work – with a lowercase w – is motivated by inherent interest and generally unpaid).

I actually think the differentiation is not whether you are paid for the work or not, but whether you are expected to take the initiative and get the job done, no matter what it takes. Is it up to you to take the initiative, or are you told how to do it? For most knowledge workers, the quality of their Work is directly related to their ability to work.

So what is the difference between a system built for Work, vs a system built for work:

  1. People are required to use Work systems, people choose their work systems
  2. Work systems are management oriented, work systems are user oriented
  3. Work systems are closed (only people in your department\company), work systems are open

So what is ACM – a Work system, or a work system. I am coming to the conclusion that it is a Work system that supports work. In other words an ACM system is a business system for people for which work is a large part of their Work.

 People need to choose to use an ACM for their work – because if they don’t, they won’t use it for their Work either. It needs to provide users with the information and tools they need to do their jobs, but also needs to support a management hierarchy. It needs to provide access controls and security as needed for Work – but also needs the ability to open up when needed to allow work across borders (department borders, company borders).

I maintain that today’s BPMS are built for supporting Work – and are not approrpiate for work. That is why for jobs that blend Work and work, a BPMS isn’t the right choice. That is where ACM complements BPMS.

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5 Responses to “Is Adaptive Case Management for Work, or for work?”

  1. Tweets that mention Is Adaptive Case Management for Work, or for work? | ActionBase Blog - Thoughts on Collaboration Process Management Unstructured Compliance and Audit -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by T.S. Li (李丹珊) and T.S. Li (李丹珊), ActionBase. ActionBase said: Is Adaptive Case Management for Work, or for work? – http://bit.ly/c8TZtE #bpm […]

  2. Scott Says:

    Jacob, this is a fantastic post – and this gets to the heart of why I was questioning why there might be a lot of pressure from “free” in one of my posts. If it is for “work” then people pick what they want to use and when they pick themselves they usually trend toward free… if it is for “Work” then it (like almost all software) gets bundled in with other software (thankyou stack vendors). This is a good thought experiment and hypothesis to test – is it an IT Work tool to support people doing work… very interesting construction.

    I agree that BPMS are built to support “Work” much more than “work” (only the biggest BPMN nerds will use it for “work” 🙂

    However, the conclusion of “that’s why BPMS isn’t the right choice for blending” may not be true – because it is trivial to imagine a fully featured BPMS integrated with ActionBase. Or email. Or Wave. or whatever. And so I think for jobs that blend Work and work – the BPMS that is a fit for your team is going to be one that manages that grey area or those transitions, well. Rather than one that makes the lines harsh bright dividing lines. The question to me is, if “ACM” the concept fits that space, is there enough space between Work and work for ACM to exist as an independent market? Is it a line or a chasm or an ocean? (Also, I have to keep reminding people that for the most part, when we say “ACM does this” or “ACM complements that” we are speaking hypothetically. Because whenever I ask for examples of it doing the examples of what it is good at, I’m told it is too early for ACM to be in the wild doing those things! Hypothetically, an ACM”S” would be good complement to BPM”S”. If we take actionbase to be the example of the ACM tool, then I’m happy to say, yes, there is at least one example – actionbase – that is complementary. I don’t know enough about the other “ACM” tooling to say that yet. ).

    scott

  3. Jacob Ukelson Says:

    Scott,
    Thanks for the reply, I really enjoy your thoughtful comments.

    Theoretically I agree with you – there is no technical reason a BPMS couldn’t be extended to work, not just Work. As you said, ActionBase can, and has, worked with BPMS.

    But whenever I have a discussion with a mainstream BPM vendor, we seem to be talking at cross purposes. They logically understand what unstructured work is, but in their hearts they believe it is just structured work that people were really just too lazy to structure, and one of the main reasons to support unstructured work at all is to find out enough about it so that it can be structured. It may be more of a cultural issue than a technical issue.

  4. Scott Says:

    Jacob, I too enjoy the interchange of ideas 🙂 Especially, I like how you set up the straw man, and then take a look from different angles (which encourages me to do the same thing).

    “But whenever I have a discussion with a mainstream BPM vendor, we seem to be talking at cross purposes. They logically understand what unstructured work is, but in their hearts they believe it is just structured work that people were really just too lazy to structure, and one of the main reasons to support unstructured work at all is to find out enough about it so that it can be structured. It may be more of a cultural issue than a technical issue.”
    – I think this is the heart of why some of the ACM folks are disenchanted with BPM – the mainstream or dominant BPM vendors often take these kind of stands – which don’t really make sense to me – or to you – and are entirely too rigid.

    I think (someday) they’ll come around. Not soon enough for our tastes 🙂

  5. Tweets that mention Is Adaptive Case Management for Work, or for work? | ActionBase Blog - Thoughts on Collaboration Process Management Unstructured Compliance and Audit -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Scott Francis, ActionBase. ActionBase said: @sfrancisatx Theoretically I agree – there is no reason a BPMS couldn’t be extended to work, not just Work…. http://bit.ly/caFpVT […]

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