ACM is about “smarting up” the organization. When two businesses go into battle, the winner will be the one that can put the “most active brains on the front line”.
It is no secret that Industrialization is about “dumbing down” the organization: define precise, repeatable, actions that can be done repeatedly, so that you can mass produce interchangeable parts very cheaply. People were constrained to act like machines.
Here is the cool thing about the 21st century: we now have machines to act like machines. We don’t really need people to do that.
Some would argue that this means there will be millions of workers on the street, and yes I think that the high unemployment rates are due in part to the success in automation. But I see that there is an opportunity as well: freeing up intelligent people from mind numbing jobs means there is more intelligence available as a resource. We have more brains because we need less brawn.
A visionary leader will grab this opportunity to “smarten up” their organization. The typical office is going to become more like a graduate school, and less like a factory. Today a graduate school is considered “elitist” but this will get much less exclusive over time.
A smart visionary leader will realize that there is more to it than just hiring brains. You need to make sure that people are not locked into room, but have the ability to interact flexibly and quickly. And, you need to assure that what is learned is captured in a form that can be reused. While history of a factory line is pretty dull and predicable, history of a graduate school is quite interesting and valuable.
The model to look for might be that of the Manhattan Project where great pains were taken to get the smartest people together to work on a project which had no known solution, and to do it in record time. Nobody sat down and wrote out the process flows of how the ideas were going to be “processed”. The opposite of a factory was designed -including the idea that “its natural beauty and views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, which, it was hoped, would inspire those who would work on the project” (Oppenheimer). Not every business will have the urgency of a national project on this scale, but there is a case to be made that businesses will become more like scaled down Manhattan Projects.
This is sort of the opposite of the “evil genius with a hoard of minions” stereotype. The head of an organization who believes that they are the only one that really needs to think, and everyone just follow orders, will not be interested in ACM.
The stakeholder benefits are results, not efficiency. It is about “out-thinking” your competition, advancing at a faster pace, finding a better fit with more customers, winning by doing more faster and smarter.
That is the purpose of ACM: “smarting up” the organization. Those who believe their organization is smart enough, need not apply.
(Many thanks to Max Pucher, Dave Duggal, and others for discussions on the Adaptive Case Management Linked-In Group refining these ideas.)