Always an art, never a science?
Art and science have their meeting point in method.
What makes BPM different than scientific management approaches (like project management, six sigma etc)?
1. There is no global optimum
There is no best way to execute a process, it all depends on availability of resources (time, money, talent) for execution. It is an illusion to think that one may ever reach a global optimum in any process.
2. BPM is a continuous deployment framework
There is no best time to improve / change / upgrade a process. Or rather, the best time to do that is "as soon as possible". A business process must be agile, i.e. must be able to adapt to new conditions (shift in strategy, legislative changes etc). Therefore on-the-go tweaking should be part of the process design philosophy.
Hey, this sounds a lot like the lean start-up philosophy!
1/ start small with a minimum viable process and with a few process metrics that matter,
2/ continuously test your model's falsifiable hypotheses along the way until you get it right and avoid local optima,
3/ tweak it on-the-go based on the learnings above.
Actually, there are at least two major differences:
1. Approach on customer problem
A lean start-up defines how a new product solves an existing / emerging customer problem.
A business process redefines how an existing organization addresses entire classes of existing problems (effectiveness, efficiency, segregation of duties, activity cost, information distribution, asset / function redundancy etc).
2. Build-Measure-Learn cycle
A lean start-up iterates the product. One product iteration may be deployed almost instantaneously. Customer reaction can measured reliably in direct relation with that specific iteration.
A business process iteration manages the change to the process (employee education, transition, organizational feedback, integration into an existing business model). Therefore, a business process iteration needs a significant soak period before it starts to perform as intended.
So... how do we reconcile this?...
More to come :-)