Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Coming IT Flip-Flop

As a follow-up to my previous blog-entry about Peter Fingar's book Extreme Competition, a related article by Fingar called "The Coming IT Flip-Flop" (also available in a BPM Trends article) builds on the same trend, and talks of the increasing need for Human Interaction Management, and tools that try to facilitate that INSTEAD of trying to do more workflow/process automation (see related book of the same name). Some relevant excerpts:
It won't be just the satellite/fiber networks that drive the continued globalization of highly skilled white-collar workers, it will be the ability to create virtual work spaces where far flung teams can work together in real time. As globalization continues, the demand for a new generation of technology support for work accomplished by geographically dispersed teams becomes clear.
. . .
And the answer isn't workflow... Such capabilities are needed to help a company put it's "house in order" with application integration. But they don't directly support the way people actually accomplish their work.

What's needed is dedicated support for dynamic human-to-human interactions that cannot be preordained or pre-programmed the way system-to-system interactions are. Further, it's the human-driven business processes that are the very heart of business process management and project management. A New Category of Business Technology.
. . .
The Old IT applied automation to information; the New IT applies automation to relationships. The Old IT was about keeping records and transmitting data; the New IT is about "connecting and collaborating" to get work done--now that productivity doesn't require proximity.
. . .
It's not enough to organize human activities around information; it must be organized around the work itself. In the Industrial Age, human activities were organized around the assembly line; and in the Information Age, human activities are organized around information (the raison d'etre for functional management). In the emerging Process Age, where a company's business processes are key to effectiveness, it's now time to organize human activities around the work itself. That means fusing traditional collaboration and information tools and extending them with a complete theory of human work iif we are to build systems that can support the way people actually work, versus treating them as cogs in an information machine.
. . .
Xerox's former Chief Scientist John Seely Brown, is correct: "Processes don't do work, people do."
These are subjects near and dear to agility (supporting "people and interactions over processes and tools").

I'll talk about a recent book from John Seely Brown and John Hagel in my next blog-entry.

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