A Twelve Step Program for Unstructured Process Enlightenment

Admitting that one cannot control one’s addiction or compulsion;

  • Don’t try to structure every process. Most of the world’s business processes are currently unstructured and executed using email and documents. Many of these just can’t be structured. Even though more and more processes will get structured over time, an even greater number of unstructured processes will be continue to be created.

Recognizing a greater power that can give strength;

  • The reason that there are so many unstructured processes is because in the world of knowledge work, that is how people get things done. Don’t try to structure processes that are inherently unstructured – you’ll fail. Here are some basic questions to help ascertain whether your process can be structured or not:
    • Does the process have a lot of ad-hoc, unpredictable activity associated with it (i.e does it change each time it is executed)?
    • Are there a lot of exceptions associated with process?
    • Is the process a people process that is heavily dependent on the skill and knowledge of the participants –do they need to be in charge of the flow? Is negotiation and discussion between participants a major part of the process?
    • Does the process require investigation and research?
    • Is the process generating and gathering (for the most part) unstructured data and content (i.e. documents)?
    • Does the process flow change based on the accumulated documents and content?

Examining past errors with the help of a sponsor (experienced member);  

  • Get an adaptive case management (ACM) mentor (come join us at the ACM mentor camp on Sept 17) and learn to ask some basic questions about your processes and their structure.

Making amends for these errors;

  • Take a look at your processes from a new angle – maybe they should remain unstructured, and you need to provide just enough of a framework to make them manageable, but not so much as to strangle them. Maybe there is a reason people stick to email and documents for certain processes.

Learning to live a new life with a new code of behavior;

  • Don’t think every process should be modeled.  Maybe your process can’t be rigorously modeled. Maybe the structure will emerge over time, or maybe never. Maybe tracking and monitoring can take place of control and rigorous modeling. Maybe “trust but verify” works better than “lock it down”. Maybe a BPMS and BPMN just aren’t the right tools. Think about the social and human aspects of your process and process participants (and the process experience).

Helping others that suffer from the same addictions or compulsions

  • Help spread the word in the process community. There are structured processes – which is where BPMS excel. Unstructured, unpredictable human processes – they exist, and aren’t just “processes that haven’t yet been structured” – that is where ACM can help.
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