Knowledge Management, Social Media, Social BPM and Control

The term “knowledge management” has been used – and misused – in many different ways over the years, but I agree with Jonathan Reichental’s definition of it as the identification, retention, effective use and retirement of institutional insight. I really, really agree with his further insights about knowledge management in the age of social media:

The days of the single, authoritative voice are coming to an end. The community has prevailed.

I’m writing a white paper right now on social BPM for enterprise transformation (not the same white paper that I referred to in yesterday’s post on a spectrum of process functionality), and I’ve been reviewing some of my research and presentations on social BPM from the past five years as well as those of others. One thing that jumps out at me, and was reinforced by a comment made by my client, is that there is a paradigm shift happening in the way that organizations understand 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.

The other thing that comes to mind, prompted by the quote above, is that harnessing collective intelligence is fast becoming the most important feature from O’Reilly’s original Web 2.0 definition as it applies to organizational knowledge management, as well as community efforts like the PKBoK. In social BPM, features such as collaborative process discovery and modeling are allowing the community within an organization to define the business processes, rather than relying on a much smaller group of “expert” process designers. That’s not to say that you don’t want some of those expert process designers involved – after all, they are likely trained and experienced and spotting inconsistencies and inefficiencies that others might miss – but you’ll ultimately see better quality of processes by allowing the community to participate in their definition.

9 thoughts on “Knowledge Management, Social Media, Social BPM and Control

  1. Dear Sandy,
    You wrote “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.”
    This was the truth Gatner was telling on its BPM Summit 2011 in London as well.
    What do you think? Will we see the next revolution in transforming our society from a patriarchical/hierarchiecal and with this a competitional one to a more cooperative one as it is in matriarchical societies?
    The expert will not be a person, it will be the team? The team is managing itself like those using SCRUM to be agile? If the need for lead is given, the team decides from whome to be managed for a while?
    The team decides how to do the necessary work? Who should participate in the team and who should leave the team because of low performance?
    As it is practiced with many success for years in the company named semco in Brasilia?
    Prof. Gunther Dueck, chief architect of IBM Germany wrote an article posted on his web-site differentiating cooperativity as a typical woman space and competition as a man space. And that the cooperative way will bring much more effectiveness in the results than the competition way. The argument is trivial: one expert dictating what to do will demotivate each others. Working in a team where all members have a voice the motivation will be in sum higher because of the seft-determination of each.
    Best Regards, Martin

  2. Hi Martin, interesting concept about cooperation/collaboration versus competition and how it relates to gender. I’m not sure that most people are brave enough to open up that discussion!

  3. Hi Sandy,
    I don´t expect much response here because of the needed psycholigical knowledge as well as the results of new brain researches. Additionally, it´s to think about revolution about how to work and to live together. But reading so many posts in the last months and weeks it smells about great changes here driven by the social media applications. Transpareny is the liquidity to change the thinking. Let´s see what happens.
    Martin

  4. Martin, I think that there are significant cultural changes that have to happen before this really becomes widespread. When it does, however, I think that it will definitely be for the better.

  5. I’m surprised by this article’s statement about “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” and the comments so far, and wonder how many of the commenters have ever delivered a BPM app in the field.

    EVERY BPM solution I’ve ever delivered has ALWAYS had a user requirements elicitation and specification aspect both. Granted, sometimes at my recommendation or even at my insistence, but the one individual I’m after is that person who has been in the company for 25 years or longer, knows all the business processes inside-out and who understands how all the business units interact for a given domain. That individual, and those throughout the user community like them, are worth their weight in gold and, with senior management’s approval (again, perhaps, at my insistence), always define a solution that is appropriate to the task at hand. Because they, not their management, know the work that needs to be done. It’s usually not that hard to convince senior management that’s the case and these are the correct individuals to define and direct the processes.

    Social isn’t new, particularly for letting users drive requirements and processes both, just doing it via what’s currently being qualified as social (and let’s be honest here, we’re really talking about the Facebook and Twitter paradigms) are. And that is not rocket science.

    Cheers, Pat

  6. Pat, I agree that process discovery/design is often somewhat collaborative, or at least involves requirements elicitation from those in the know about the processes, but social BPM is about so much more than that, especially at runtime. Even if the person who knows the most about the process defines it, if the runtime is structured and unchangeable, it will be difficult for knowledge workers to do their jobs since they will need to circumvent the system in some way.

    And, by the way, as one of the commenters on this thread, I’ve been implementing BPM apps for more than 20 years.

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