Which is the only conclusion I can draw from his comments regarding Centres of Excellence etc. in, amongst other places, this really good presentation he made last year.
But instead of ridiculing his stance I actually think it’s totally understandable and probably very similar to most BPM “experts”. To paraphrase the immortal Donald Rumsfeld (no, strike that; the world absolutely doesn’t want him around for ever…), “you don’t know what you don’t know”.
Here’s my thinking; If you’ve come from the world of BPA and BPMS/process automation, (which is the enormous majority of people in the process space, so I think this probably applies to pretty much every BPM commentator), then you are unconsciously incompetent to talk about massive deployment of process into an organisation.
The 4 stages of learning:
unconscious incompetence – you don’t know what you don’t know. This applies in skiing all the time; people go off piste/into the backcountry with no idea of whether what they’re doing is dangerous or not.
conscious incompetence - you know that you don’t know. I remember this feeling the first time I went into the African bush and wanted to go to an adjacent camp on foot. I knew that I didn’t know if walking there was dangerous or not.
conscious competence – I know how to do it but I have to concentrate. Learner drivers.
unconscious competence – I can do it without thinking. Experienced drivers.
BTW I’m only using the word ‘incompetent’ in the nicest possible way
What I mean is that BPA/BPMS projects are focused on small centralized groups building processes. A few people with brains the size of a planet doing desperately clever things in small groups. If the content is deployed outside the group then it is done in a very structured manner. And that means that the people involved (the BPM specialists referred to above) have no notion of what devolving the creation and deployment of process content out to tens or hundreds of thousands of people is about and the challenges it holds. They don’t know what they don’t know, but frighteningly are giving advice nonetheless.
Well we (Nimbus) do, warts and all; we have hundreds of implementations with a central repository and thousands of people accessing and creating content on a daily basis. And here’s a bit of advice for free; unless you have a well structured CoE you will have chaos and little or no value. We have seen a (fortunately small) number of our clients, big, sometimes global companies, ignore our advice and do exactly what Phil is suggesting with his seductive tag-line, “the democratization of process”, i.e give people easy and powerful tools to use and somehow it will all be alright…
And it might sound warm, fuzzy and attractive to western sensibilities but I can tell you it is an utter mess. You get exactly what Phil is proposing; loads of people building content, really getting into it, communicating like mad, and guess what? No value and ultimately frustrated people. This is one case where out of the chaos no beautiful order emerges…
Whatever software you use you should absolutely be collaborating, devolving process creation, using social tools and principles.
However please, for your own sake, don’t do it without sensible strong governance…