I’m convinced that enterprise 2.0 doesn’t mean processes hunt in purpose to play a pure informal game but offers new opportunities to take the most of informal and non-structured assets. Though… what I thing being a rule has its exceptions. I’m not about to join the dreamer’s clan but a discussion I had with , while having a coffee, a few weeks ago. There are processes and processes. Those that exist by calling and those that exist by default.
We were sharing nearly the same vision with Luis when he asked me “in fact, the “2.0” will cause the end of some processes”. “Hem ! Can you tell me which ones ? “. “All those which vocation was to replace people”. Bingo ! Actually, two kind of process exist : those that are to organize people’s productivity and determine everyone’s tasks and those that are to organize people’s reflections (individually or collectively).
Two reasons for that.
The first is historical : we’re not far from the time when the only quality people were asked to have was one only ability : repeating endlessly one individualized task requiring on specific capability. Of course this legacy is still there although tasks are more and more collective, aren’t manual anymore and can’t be boiled down to and endless repetition.
The second is technical : making collective intellectual activities possible needs equipment. Most of all in big organizations.Inconveniently, the need for developping synergies between people mostly using their knowledge growed as enterprises spread geographically with one consequence : it’s impossible to gather people as often as needed, which is the condition for making those practices possible.
Of course technology was called for help, but we have to assume that traditional tools, which are perfect to process information and follow procedures were not efficient to do what they were not designed for. The came the “2.0” tools which characterics are to be easily handled and allow people to process information together and interact upon this basis.
But what happened before this tools slowly got into the enteprise ? Through lack of being able to make intellectual synergies possible, but also because enterprises were split in two with, in the one hand, those who execute and, in the other hand, those who decide, and, at last, because intellectual activities were less key to creating value, they were replaced by processes.
You’ll tell me a process doesn’t allow to find a solution or to innovate, all the most to structure the way we do it. True. In fact the purpose was to help people to find solutions but to allow them to apply a one and only solution that was already found for them. More than a method it was a recipe that didn’t make possible create a new course when needed but to cook always the same thing. That’s also the reason why innovation process barely lead to innovation since innovation had to be built on replication.
So Luis was right : those process are supposed to disappear because they were a solution by default to a probleme that couldn’t be solved otherwise..
Now it’s possible to solve those problems with appropriate solutions instead of cosmetic improvements, the time has come to work a different way. Not in every case but when processess were set up because social interactions to solve problems were impossible.
Let’s imagine the followig dialogue between a consultant and a manager :
– you set up very strict procedures
– of course…we have to conrol everything
– and you understood that a long time ago…
– yes, we designed the system in the 50s and, thanks to it, it made helped us being efficient so far
– It was also because of your employees.
– of course ! At this time we hired people with poor qualifications and it was impossible to give them any autonomy and let them decide anything, contrary to managers who came from the best universities. More, it was technically impossible to make them exchange and to exchange with them to help them.
– and no way to make them make things together
– actually at this time we only had phone and internal (paper) mail. No emails, forums, neither blogs and wikis.
– so you’re telling me that, today, you’re hiring people with few qualification and that you don’t have any technical mean to make them work together ? That you don’t give them autonomy because you can’t monitor what they do ?
– Not at all. Our recruits all come from the best business schools and we have a state of the art IT department….
– Let’s talk back about your process…
– Hum…they’re necessary…because…they exist.
We could play a little game : identify processes that were set because it was easier to give a “one size fits all” solution, whether it’s not an appropriate solution, instead of giving a method everyone could use to build his own solution, alone or with his colleagues’ help.
Some examples ? Some criterias to identify them ?