Tomorrow’s businesses need strong processes and deep automation


Summary:Tomorrow’s business will give people and their peculiar skills a good deal to increase overall performance. Creativity, problem solving, exception handling…everything that has nothing to do with processes and automation. But if excellence is not reached on these points if will be difficult to develop knowledge work and even to give it time to happen.

When we talk about the future of enterprise, we often mention the need for getting rid of the rigidity of processes, autonomy, processes, making the system (organization and IT) serve people instead of making people serve the system. It need a very scarce resource to work : time. It also need trust and a strict definition of the limits of autonomy, understood by all. Without that, tomorrow’s enterprises won’t last under this form.

I often say that the largest part of employee’s activity is and will be more and more about exceptions handling and problem solving what supposes to have time for creativity, innovation; knowledge and practices exchanges etc.. In fact that’s only half true. That’s true when everything that could be automated has been (some things that could not be automated have been , in fact, automated but that’s not our point today). As long as everything needs no judgement and does not tolerate any exception has been modeled and given to the appropriate tools. This is the one and only condition to make people focus on what they excel at and are much better at than any software. If it’s not met, “essential routines” will require most of their time on tasks where their added value is poor and where they’ll be rather sources of errors.

That said we have to admit that the dawn of social tools in the workplace brought more confusion to things that were not easy to get. Before, it was very common for employees to capture data on many different tools. This the reason why lots of information where not captured or updated because doing so was both boring and time consuming. “Social” brought a new layer of troubles. In addition to capturing data in traditional business tools, employees had to switch to social tools to say “I’m doing this and need some help to solve that problem”, identify the right resources to progress. Reason why most people stick to the basic, well known, lowest common denominator of their work. Today we’re seeing a solution slowly emerging with the integration of social and business tools, the latter being able to send signals into the firsts, not participating into the conversation but becoming conversations starters. Globally speaking, the ability to easily, directly (even automatically) link an object (document, event generated by a business tool) to the conversations that relates to it will be essential.

If the first point misses, time lacks and energy goes (is wasted on ?) essential but repetitive tasks where the human factor has a poor added value. If the second misses, the new social layer will be more a burden than an opportunity.

Going further, we can even add that if these foundations are not perfected and solid, anything that will be added to move toward new organization models will generate more troubles than benefits.

It’s always easier to be agile and mobile when one’s feet are on a solid ground rather than a friable one.