I decided to change the title of this blog, and I figured it worth a small note to explain why.
I started the blog three years ago as an experiment. I had a few things to say, but no idea if I would take the time to put them down, and even less of an idea whether anyone would care. Upon reflection, I am satisfied with that step. The blog has been more rewarding than I expected.
At the time I picked the name “Go Flow” quickly to avoid wasting time finding the perfect name for something I hadn’t fully conceptualized. I chose a license plate: describe something in 7 letters or less.
Recently, I read one of those motivational pieces somewhere, and it encouraged communicating your core values. When I dig deep, I find that I have been working for 25 years on a theme of helping office people work together, and almost 20 years on the subject of helping people to plan and then follow those plans. It seems that workflow and BPM have really been a kind of side trip from that. Clearly planning goes with process, and process with planning, so they are highly related, but what really gets me interested is the collaborative planning aspect of this technology.
It seems that “BPM” has come to mean a way to integrate servers, and workflow a kind of document router, both of these with a strong orientation toward very elaborate but fixed processes. Take one look at the BPMN 2.0 spec, and you will realize that this is designed for highly trained esoteric specialists, not for the masses. Instead of something extremely sophisticated for specialists (e.g. jumbo jet cockpit) I think there is more overall good to be gained from by designing for lots of people to use easily (e.g. accelerator petal = speed up, brake pedal = slow down). The more we get dragged into discussion of precise process execution semantics, the more I realize that this misses the point of what successful organization do: communicating from human to human. Automating an organization is important, but the real value is in agility, and agility does not come from elaborate plans, but rather very simple ones.
The real technology that will break the boundaries of what is possible is an ability for people to be empowered to work in new and creative ways in response to needs around them. This is the goal of agility that we seek and need because as Alvin Toffler pointed out in Future Shock, the rate of change will only get faster in the future. We need so desperately to have ways to communicate about plans, as well as computer facilitation of those processes.
Planning is the human activity that allows an organization to approach a new situation with a response suitable to that situation. Large projects are complex, and there way to collaborate on those plans will be key. This is Collaborative Planning. It has been the center of my most interesting work for the past 20 years, and continues to be the area that I see the greatest potential. So it only makes sense to refocus this blog toward the concepts of Collaborative Planning and the technology that supports it.