Social media hype (again)

Last week I had the good fortune of participating at BP Council promoted by Forrester Research. One of the tracks was about change management.

This track involved people who belong the different groups sharing ideas about how to structure change management when implementing a new enterprise program. The medium to idea generation was “brown paper” glued to the hall, post its and white board pens.

In the end each group presented it’s conclusions on paper, with the post its glued together with hand writing and signs on a very nimble and clear way.

This contradicts all  social media tools benefits and advantages.

Before the criticism starts, let me state clear that I believe that these new social tools can bring a lot of benefits:

  • Cost reduction (there is no need to incur on traveling expenses);
  • Structuring all the info around idea generation (documents, comments, votes, approvals, flow charts, data);
  • Access (everyone can see the information in a structured repository).

But it’s also true that social tools cannot simulate human interaction:

  • There is no way to provide a format that allows people to write their ideas like writing on paper. Ahh you can say yes there is. Well try to watch how people behave when they are writing and try to the same on a paperless system (my group finished idea generation first and I kept looking to the other group expressing it’s ideas).
  • There will be people that cannot understand how to use a system. Training is needed, or a system  facilitator must be in place organizing other peoples ideas.
  • There is a huge difference between letting people write their ideas on a paper (just think how easy is putting a sheet of paper in front on a group of people with pens that like kids are engaged and committed to a desired result)  and a system that for some reason blocks the way people express because they cannot understand the interface, or does not simulate how a person can put it’s mark (this makes all the difference) like doing it’s personal hand writing.
  • Last, try to carry an analysis of a process mock up on  computer screen. Even the most experienced print it all and organize things on a table or glue it all over again on the wall.

Think about it.

My personal my thanks to: Alex Peters, Claire Schooley  and Jeanne Strepacki that facilitated the session.

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4 thoughts on “Social media hype (again)

  1. Alberto, I agree with your criticisms of social media. Therefore I do not see all the fantastic benefits that Social BPM is supposed to bring. But as the implementation of BPMS requires substantial bureaucracy, social enebalement can reduce the negative side-effects of that. But what if we would do a form of BPM that does not have those side-effects because it does not need so much bureaucracy?

    Yes, human interaction can’t be replaced by social networking interaction. But it is better than no or slow interaction or where multiple people are not able to communicate and share the same information. So waht if we take the step from CHATTING about process to CREATING and ADAPTING process by a social media like interaction. What if we use an environment that defines a business language (ontology and terminology) and empowers people to interact similar to social media about real-world information?

    Executives can define their objectives, customers define what it is that the outcomes they need, management can add the financial targets, process owners can add the goals, performers can define how they execute and customers tell us if they are happy. That would be the perfect social interaction about process, as IT IS THE PROCESS. No need for complex design and bureaucracy. That is also called empowerment. Orthodox BPM is a straightjacket for the business because it is too hard to do.

    A BPM flow (defined on paper or socially) does not guarantee an outcome. People do.

    More on my blog: http://isismjpucher.wordpress.com/2011/05/27/the-language-of-process/

    • Max:

      I agree that the final frontier as you say is “use an environment that defines a business language (ontology and terminology)”.

      This is the challenge vendors must embrace otherwise we will still have siloed applications, duplication and waste.

  2. Pingback: BPM Quotes of the week « Adam Deane

  3. While I think there are strong arguments for a kickoff meeting that’s face to face I wonder if distance collaboration tools, in particular on-line mind mapping tools and wikis, don’t allow you to not only continue to execute but continue to refine the initial plan. Face to face is the highest bandwidth but I would think distance collaboration technologies could effectively supplement for interim communication

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