Is Social BPM the new Facebook?


No. Not even close. But not entirely different, either. I’ll take a minute and demystify the term that we’re seeing with great regularity, ‘Social BPM’.

As I wrote in UPS, TED, BPM and the Adjustment Bureau, process content done well can be interpreted by everyone, not just by the experts. Simplicity rules and everyone is brought into the circle of process expertise.

The reverse is also true…giving the organization, not just the experts, the ability to create and modify content brings the same ideas to life as ‘Social BPM’. No longer a concept for the few, creating, giving input to, managing and interpreting content is now being seen as a key function of the actual people who do the work.

Sandy Kemsley makes this point quite well in her blog, Knowledge Management, Social Media, Social BPM and Control. “Control no longer means that management dictates every action that every employee takes, but rather that appropriate levels of control are given to everyone so that they can control their environment and make it most effective for their tasks at hand.”

Sandy is making the same point I made earlier this week in my blog, “Gone are the days when management was in the know and the worker just followed directions.” This isn’t subtle. People have talked for years about harnessing the power of the enterprise, but this is about really doing it in a meaningful way…the way people perform their everyday work.

Forrester’s Clay Richardson, using simplicity as the guide, defined the idea in a single, succinct slide. Social BPM is about more voices. The tools exist that allow process experts, management and people in the trenches to have a continual conversation about business process.

This isn’t the future…it is happening now in companies like Cisco, where the recent APQC Frameworks Study participants were shown their process portal, where process end users can provide feedback on all quality management processes across the company. These results will be published soon, so watch this blog for details.

Equate this to the fall of the nightly news and the local editions of newspapers. We saw the events in Japan unfold from the personal video cameras, uploaded directly to CNN and many other outlets. We collaboratively followed the news. It wasn’t interpreted for us by experts. It didn’t need to be.

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Chris Taylor joined Nimbus in 2009 as VP Consulting Americas, and leads a team of business process improvement consultants who serve major corporations across the world. Chris’s clients include Nestlé, Cisco, Northrop Grumman, ThyssenKrupp and many others, who use Business Process Management (BPM) tools and techniques to drive process standardisation, improvement, quality and compliance initiatives. His insight to what makes BPM a sustainable success for so many client organisations makes him a valuable industry commentator. Before joining Nimbus, Chris held senior consulting and leadership roles focused on business transformation with ILOG (now IBM), Perot Systems and Accenture. In his early career, Chris managed aircrew and flight operations while flying for the US Navy. He is an avid skier, hiker and sailor and spends most of his off time exploring the mountains and coasts near his home in Southern California and the rest of the world.