Internet Time Blog, Page Two

July 28, 2004
ASTD Silicon Valley

Last night I met with a charming group of people at the monthly meeting of the Silicon Valley Chapter of ASTD. We discussed A Few Thoughts About Informal Learning. My pal Kathleen Hurson introduced me as the sort of person The Tipping Point calls a maven. In fact, she said super-maven. Finally I've found a title to put on my business card. Well, perhaps not.



There's more! Continue reading...


Performance Support

I can doodle, I can diagram, but I never learned to draw. At least, I can't draw well. Trust me on this. It's not learned helplessness. Drawing is absent from my genetically inherited mental macro library.

Actually, I lied when I said I never learned to draw. I should have said I never learned to draw without help. I just finished this portrait. It took about 10 minutes.

My performance support tool was a cool web-based application called Mr. Picassohead. (Try it.)

Check out the whole gallery.

Imagine having a console like this for doing your work. Zounds.

Steve Jobs reputably had a graphic on his office wall at NeXT that said that the least efficient means of transportion among mammals was a human walking. The most efficient? A human riding a bicycle.



Kingsbridge Conference Center

I'm in the midst of a wonderful weekend at Kingbridge Conference Center, about 45 minutes north of the Toronto airport. Sixty out-of-the-box friends and acquaintances are participating in a weekend retreat, discussing transparency, good & evil, social networking, and whatever else we're into.

 


John Abele, who made his bucks with Boston Scientific, owns the Center, which began life as a spa, morphed into the Learning Center for CIBC, and came on the market in tough times. Abele's mission is to use the Center to extend the role of collaboration. The place is beautiful, the food is tasty, and I'd love to host an event here some day.







Shortly before seven this morning, I set out for a walk. Alas, walking through the woods, I was attacked by an aggressive swarm of mosquitos. The front desk gave me some StingEze, but half an hour later I was hit with severe itching on the palms of my hands, my toes, my thighs, and other places I knew the skeeters hadn't gone. I tapped into the 'net and discovered I was having an alergic reaction. I drove my rental car ten minutes south to pick up Benadryl. That could care of the itching but made me so sleepy I probably missed half of today's session.



First Post by Email
This post is being send via email. It's chock full of HTML. I figure that if this gets through, just about anything can make it. Looking at SRI-Business Consulting's Learning on Demand pages today, I came upon this interesting table of Best Practices in eLearning, dated May 2004.

BEST PRACTICES SUMMARY

Learning Strategy Organization and Process Learning Content Learning Infrastructure
  • Use eLearning to address the learning challenges of a distributed workforce.

  • Use eLearning and related techniques to create learning programs for customers and resellers.

  • Use eLearning to improve synergies between internal and external participants in complex business processes and projects.

  • Provide eLearning to the sales department for fast, measurable, business impact.

  • Fulfill compliance-training requirements cheaply and efficiently using eLearning.

  • Use eLearning to provide on-demand learning for call-center operatives.

  • Use eLearning to improve time to return on investment during new corporate cost-cutting initiatives.

  • Tie learning to performance.

  • Assess learning outsourcing options.
  • Create a centralized learning and development team.

  • Source content both centrally and locally.

  • Create standards and benchmarks for eLearning content.

  • Share internal and external best practices with all teams active in developing, commissioning, or implementing learning.

  • Negotiate risk-sharing deals for off-the-shelf content libraries.

  • Represent learning early during new strategic initiatives.

  • Gain support from senior management.

  • Find ways to win over middle and line managers.

  • Foster a good partnership between the training department and information technology.

  • Create meaningful learning objectives.

  • Invest in change management and ongoing user support during a move from classroom learning to blended learning.

  • Create incentives for informal learning and knowledge sharing.
  • Develop a mix of off-the-shelf content and custom content to match the business situation.

  • Create integrated learning programs including online and classroom activities.

  • Supplement formal courses with informal learning activities.

  • Combine basic with just-in-time learning.

  • Take a learning-objects approach.

  • Design all content with reusability in mind.

  • Use easy-to-use development tools to create low-cost custom content in-house.

  • Create a "knowledge assembly line" of high-impact presentations by subject-matter experts.

  • Migrate from physical to virtual classrooms to extend reach and reduce cost.

  • Create content-selection practices that meet requirements for deployment speed.

  • Obtain mass-customized content from generic-content vendors.
  • Rationalize learning-infrastructure investments by taking a centralized approach.

  • Create a learning architecture.

  • Integrate learning-management systems (LMS) with other enterprise systems.

  • Consider LMS from enterprise-application vendors.

  • Develop infrastructure to enable greater multiuse of digital content for formal and informal learning activities.

  • Incorporate learning into employee portals.

  • Be careful of political and technical issues when scaling up a local LMS for the enterprise.

  • Consider custom LMS systems for low-cost tactical solutions.

  • Treat LMS systems for business partners like consumer Web sites.

  • Evaluate academic alternatives to commercial eLearning tools.
Source: SRI Consulting Business Intelligence


Transition


For the last three years, I've recommended Moveable Type to anyone interested in doing some serious blogging.

MT has a great set of features. It's a chameleon; you can make a blog look any way you want. It's a content management system; entries are stored in an SQL database. It's supported by a developer community; volunteers are forever adding extensions called "plug-ins" that add new functionality.

However, MT is not an option for novices. Most tweaks to MT require messing about with oddball tags and scripts. The standard input screen in ugly. Plan on using FTP and changing file permissions to get things rolling. To take advantage of MT, you need to get your head around what this bucket of PERL scripts is trying to accomplish. It's geeky. Their new version, Moveable Type 3.0, doesn't signal much of a change in direction.

One other thing: There's no easy way to manage Spam in MT's Comments fields. The old Internet Time Blog has been trashed with hundreds of messages referring readers to Paris Hilton videos and worse. Registering to make comments isn't the answer -- that will simply drive away people who just want to leave a thought and be done with it. This Comment Spam issue is what drove me back to Blogger. I'm a happy guy, but it gnaws away at my spirit to open the morning's emails, only to find dozens of truly degrading slime posted to my blogs.

Moveable Type also offers TypePad, a hosted version of their software. You pay a fee to use it. I couldn't make it perform the way I wanted. Besides, why should I pay a fee when Blogger remains free?



We Americnans tend to distrust large organizations and root for the underdog. Microsoft. The Internal Revenue Service. Cable television monopolies. Great Britain under George III.

Google is an exception. Everybody loves Google. Compare the Google interface to, say, Yahoo! Google is simple, elegant, inviting, and to the point. On holidays, Google makes you smile. Yahoo!, by contrast, looks like an old circus sideshow poster as rendered by hopped up Las Vegas dip artists.

Google now owns Blogger but they've been wise enough not to kill the spirit of founder Ev Williams. Blogger is free. Blogger is attractive. Blogger is adding cool new features like audioblogging and blog-by-mail. And Blogger is committed to appealing to the broad non-geek audience.



Of course, my motivation is not that simple. I want to see if I can create an exemplary blog with Blogger. Then I'll start recommending it. I'll track my transition to Blogger here, leaving breadcrumbs for other folks who want to switch blogging platforms.

The old joke says that "God was able to create the world in seven days because he didn't have to deal with an installated base." Among the things I'll be trying to figure out is what to do with my MT content (Blogger doesn't have an import feature) and how to switch my change notification system over.

Several emails arrived this morning from readers. Several complained about the legibility of the white-type-on-black-background. On my monitor, a ViewSonic 19" panel, it looks great, but I bow to the audience. I just changed the colors. (Aren't Cascading Styles wonderful?)

What do you think? What else should I do to make things better?



July 15, 2004
Inactive Blog

This is not the current Internet Time Blog. Rather, it's a relic, an artifact of the idyllic days before cyber-vandals began littering the blogosphere with comment spam.

If a link sent you to this page, go to www.internettime.com instead. You'll be re-directed to Internet Time Blog, wherever it may be.



July 05, 2004
RSS Feed for New Site


The XML feed for the new Internet Time Blog is:

http://metatime.blogspot.com/rss/metatime.xml



July 04, 2004
Comment Spam

I have had enough Comment Spam headaches. I am moving this site to Bloogger for a while.

Come see the new Internet Time Blog!



Testing ... testing ... 1...2..3


My first time.

this is an audio post - click to play



July 02, 2004
IT Doesn't Matter - Learning Does.

Last May a journalist named Nick Carr stirred up a ruckus with an article in Harvard Business Review claiming that IT Doesn't Matter. Using the telephone and shipping by rail were great sources of competitive advantage - until every business could afford them. Then they no longer differentiated those who used them. Carr argued that IT is a mature industry, its presence is assumed, and such things as standards will make it even more of a commodity in the future.

Consultants Howard Smith and Peter Fingar shot back a month later with a paperback retort entitled IT Doesn't Matter - Business Processes Do. I ordered a copy the day I met Peter last week, and I read the booklet yesterday evening. In 120 pages, Smith and Fingar skewer Carr, show why IT will matter more than ever, and explain how business process management creates riches.

The big argument is that "Business process management (BPM) systems can, for the first time in the history of business automation, let companies deal directly with business processes: their discovery, design, deployment, change, and optimization." As long as there's innovation, there's room for making processes better. BPM promises to obliterate the "Business-IT Divide."

To optimize a process, the right hand must know what the left is doing. Enterprise Application Integration (EAI), the melding of ERP, SCM, CRM, PLM, and what-not into one all-encompassing application, is a major step forward, but it doesn't link the organization with those outside the firewall such as partners and suppliers. Web Services integrate the enterprise with the outside world, connecting business to business, just as the Web connected consumers to businesses in the last decade.

Does this mean all business is going to be carried out using common processes that embed best practices? Not on your life. "BPM will be used both to differentiate (best-in-class) and to standardize (best-practice)." Count on Amazon, for example, to use best-practice standards for email and credit-checking, and FedEx will deliver your order. Don't expect Amazon to let you peak into proprietary systems such as One-Click Ordering, for that's where their competitive advantage lies.

Nick Carr's screed in HBR attacked data processing as we've known it. Indeed, that's not where to look for big value in the future. Business organizations are moving up the ladder a notch to MetaIT. Instead of one-time automation to save labor, they are establishing structures to continuously improve the way they do things.

Authors Smith and Fingar tell us it's time for the IT tail to stop wagging the Business dog. In their vision of the future, business people will define and own business processes. Instead of doing what-if analyses with numbers on spreadsheets, decision-makers will do what-if analyses of how their business operates or might operate.

As I recently wrote here, it's as if builders could move walls by shifting them on blueprints displayed on their laptops. With a comprehensive business blueprint, an executive can hand off an entire bundle of processes, say payroll, with minimal fuss (and with knowledge of precisely what savings will result.) A manager can experiment with different ways of getting a job done and chose the one with the most profit potential. A worker can fix a glitch in the system that has been irritating customers for once and for all. In the BPM world, business runs the show.

The authors propose a daunting laundry list of other functions the new paradigm can help accomplish, among them "accountability, activity-based costing, business process outsourcing, competitive intelligence, concurrent engineering, crisis management, inter-organizational systems, just-in-time (JIT), key performance indicators, lifetime customer value, pay-for-performance, resource-based strategy, security audit, scenario planning, and supply chain optimization." (Whew.)

My interest in all this is how it improves learning and human performance. Process-oriented environments will impact traditional training just as word processing and social change eliminated most of the nation's secretaries. Process innovation empowers us to create jobs that provide more throughput and greater worker satisfaction, although not through traditional training departments. Imagine the potential of:

  • Workflow learning
  • Transparent human development
  • Grid learning
  • Accountable training
  • Activity-based certification
  • Training value analysis
  • Learning performance management
  • Concurrent knowledge capture
  • Customer learning alignment
  • Personal flow monitoring
  • Psychological stress alerts
  • Individual performance indicators
  • Team competency management
  • Lifetime worker contribution
  • Individualized learning paths
  • Tailored management development
  • On the fly simulations

For training directors and CLOs, the future holds good news or bad news. It depends on where you're coming from. Training administrators who fail to understand the new dynamics of business as likely to find themselves stripped bare, evaluated by metrics they do not understand, and looking for another line of work. Those who adopt the process mindset take on significant new responsibilities, for everyone knows that the people in the organization are more important than the technology.

After fifty years of waiting for instructions in its corporate cocoon, training is ready to unfold its wings and be recognized as a full-fledged business process.

This is why we're convening a Community of Practice in San Francisco this fall. I'll try to shed more insight into my vision for this in the coming weeks, both here and at the Workflow Institute.



All blogging is political


Michael Moore's documentary on the Bush administration may be the first movie in history to turn the tide of the election. I encourage you to see it. In today's New York Times, Paul Krugman explains why with eloquence I envy.

    There has been much tut-tutting by pundits who complain that the movie, though it has yet to be caught in any major factual errors, uses association and innuendo to create false impressions. Many of these same pundits consider it bad form to make a big fuss about the Bush administration's use of association and innuendo to link the Iraq war to 9/11. Why hold a self-proclaimed polemicist to a higher standard than you hold the president of the United States?

    And for all its flaws, "Fahrenheit 9/11" performs an essential service. It would be a better movie if it didn't promote a few unproven conspiracy theories, but those theories aren't the reason why millions of people who aren't die-hard Bush-haters are flocking to see it. These people see the film to learn true stories they should have heard elsewhere, but didn't. Mr. Moore may not be considered respectable, but his film is a hit because the respectable media haven't been doing their job.

    For example, audiences are shocked by the now-famous seven minutes, when George Bush knew the nation was under attack but continued reading "My Pet Goat" with a group of children. Nobody had told them that the tales of Mr. Bush's decisiveness and bravery on that day were pure fiction.

    [snip]

    "Fahrenheit 9/11" is a tendentious, flawed movie, but it tells essential truths about leaders who exploited a national tragedy for political gain, and the ordinary Americans who paid the price.

Now for the political stuff. Call me a latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing" freak, and you would be wrong about the Volve and the piercing, but I dare you to visit MoveOn's Bush in 30 Seconds, watch a few ads, and not laugh (or cry) at the truth in them.

June 30, 2004
Mutlimedia Learning


Here's yet another effective form of learning.

Motivation

I am thirty pounds overweight and must exercise at leasst 30 minutes a day to work off the fat.

Access
I can transfer MP3 sounds files downloaded from the 'net via the USB port on my computer.

This tiny $80 device can record or play two hours of voice.

Learning
Yesterday I downloaded a variety of high-tech intereviews by Doug Kaye. Later, I trudged up a steep hil while listening to interviews with Chris Perillo, Steve Gilmour, and Craig Newmark. Forty-five minutes later, I had completed the day's exercise and learned a lot more about sydication, the Microsoft/Sun deal, and forming social networks. I had also completed the day's exercise.

Hearing a recorded voice has more impact than reading the same message. Talk about a cheap delivery system. Give everyone one of the gizmos and load if up with need-to-know information.

It my case, this is an example of mutlitasking that works.



Damn, damn, double damn


High on my list of things that really tick me off are:

  1. People who waste my time
  2. Malicious vandals
Since Monday, both of these have hit Internet Time Blog with a vengeance. Some deviant has posted pointers to porn sites in my Comments section. Four hundred times. It has peppered Internet Time Blog, Learning Circuits Blog, and Jaycross Blog.

There's no simple way to put things back to normal. I'm not about to go through the multi-step process of removing each instance of this garbage manually; life's too short. I will clean at the crap at the SQL level.

Then there's the issue of stopping this from happening in the future. I may switch over to MT 3.0 and force people to register in order to comment, but I fear that this will reduce the already pitiful level of response here. I may set up sufficient disguises and spoofs to mislead a Spam-posting bot.

Has anyone found a really effective way to stop this nuisance?

Google should take away the incentive for this by overlooking links that appear in Comments fields. I think I'll jot them a note.



June 28, 2004
Nonverbal impact?

Sahib Spiderman. Maish points to this example of extreme localization. To the right is Indian Spiderman..


I was never a Spiderman fan. Superman and Batman were in vogue when I read comic books. Recently, Spidey has been popping up on my radar. Only yesterday, Boing-Boing pointed to Spiderman satire. [Refresh the page when you get there for a rotation of 20 strips.]

I'm losing my hearing. It's not like someone turned down the volume knob on my ears. No, it's more like the sliders on my mental audio mixer are set to drop out a few frequencies. A sound in an otherwise quiet room is crystal clear but a voice in a crowded room fades into the generalized noise. This got me to thinking about nonverbal communication and the oft-quoted finding that most of what's communicated in conversation does come through our ears.

Professor Albert Mehrabian has pioneered the understanding of communications since the 1960's. Aside from his many and various other fascinating works, Mehrabian established this classic statistic for the effectiveness of spoken communications:

* 7% of meaning is in the words that are spoken.
* 38% of meaning is paralinguistic (the way that the words are said).
* 55% of meaning is in facial expression.

"Mehrabian's research involved spoken communications. Transferring the model indiscriminately to written or telephone communications is not reliable, except to say that without the opportunity for visual signs, there is likely to be even more potential for confused understanding and inferred meanings." Mehrabian's site is worth a look, too.

Thinking back on the findings that people tend to treat computers as if they were people, I began to wonder if an avatar can communicate nonverbally.

Spiderman is clearly a poor choice because he rarely changes expression; I'm not even sure he has lips.

Better pick some more expressive figures. Have them all say the same thing and see if the impact of the message differs....



There's more! Continue reading...


June 27, 2004
The New Religion

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

A Screed about Process

If you walked into the conference I’ve been attending for the last two days cold, you would not have a clue what people were talking about or why you would want any part of it. You might think you’d stepped into a revival for geeks. I’ll bear witness to what transpired.

Peaceable Kingdom

The image “http://www.tfaoi.com/am/12am/12am265.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Speakers fervently describe a Second Coming for IT, an entirely new and hyper-productive way of doing business. In the Promised Land, managers and workers no longer need to turn to IT to get their jobs done. Bankers run the banks and merchants run the stores without relying on CIO’s to satisfy their customers. Silos fall. Everyone makes informed decisions. Converts are on the edge of their pews.



There's more! Continue reading...


June 25, 2004
Shhhhh.....

Today I had lunch at Google with a friend. Lunch at Google is free and tasty. You can eat things cooked outside on the grill or choose from Italian, Asian Fusion, Mexican, Veggie, Charlie's Grill, or a salad bar. I had Charlie's venison.

You probably want to know what I found out about the IPO and the new product concepts the guys are batting around. Unfortunately, that's not what we talked about. Besides, Google's in their "quiet period." To help you get over that disappointment, I'm going to repeat a number of jokes from Dive Into Mark.

What's the difference between roast beef and pea soup?
Anyone can roast beef.

A man and a parrot sit next to each other in a plane. The service in the plane is really bad, the man hasn’t had a drink for hours and he’s starting to dehydrate. The parrot on the other hand is getting drink after drink by the harrowed cabin crew. Each time the parrot orders a drink it does so with a lot of cursing and shouting. The man decides to follow the same tactic and starts shouting. "Hey, bitch get me a whiskey!" To his suprise he gets his whiskey and follows through with the same tactic. Soon, both man and parrot outdo each other in shouting and insults untill the cabin crew has had enough. They grab the man and parrot and throw them out of the plane. Now both of them are plummeting towards the ground below when the parrot says to the man: "Boy, for someone who can't fly you sure do curse a lot".

Two molecules are walking down the street. One suddenly stops and says, "Wait, I think I dropped an electron." The other looks at him and asks "Are you positive?"

Mahatma Ghandi was an amazingly spiritual man, but physically he was quite a wreck. His penchant for going barefoot led to him having enormously tough feet. His diet, such as it was between hunger strikes, meant he was very thin and frail. It also had the side effect of giving him very bad breath. In fact you could say he was a super-calloused, fragile mystic cursed by halitosis.



Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! Wolf!

Researchers warn of infectious Web sites

WWW.Danger.Net


It looks like the Internet is turning into a world wide minefield this morning.

MS issues warning on Web attacks, pushes XP SP2 beta


The warnings from the Redmond, Washington, company came as antivirus and computer security experts said Friday that an organized gang of Russian hackers were behind the attacks and were using the security holes in a coordinated, global attack to steal sensitive personal and financial information from customers of leading banking and e-commerce Web sites.

Major Internet Attack Under Way


Security experts say Russian hackers are using a sophisticated attack to compromise major E-commerce Web sites, which then infect visitors with hacker tools designed to steal passwords and financial data, and possibly spew spam.

Web browser flaw prompts warning


Users are being told to avoid using Internet Explorer until Microsoft patches a serious security hole in it. The loophole is being exploited to open a backdoor on a PC that could let criminals take control of a machine.

Warning: Widespread Internet Attack Possible


U.S. official sources, along with Internet security experts, are warning of a mysterious virus that can turn infected computers into spam-delivering zombies. The virus apparently has attacked thousands of servers that power popular Web sites already.

IIS 5 Web Server Compromises
US-CERT recommends that end-users disable JavaScript unless it is absolutely necessary. Users should be aware that any web site, even those that may be trusted by the user, may be affected by this activity and thus contain potentially malicious code.

Antivirus experts and the U.S. Homeland Security Department are warning of a mysterious virus that has attacked "thousands" of Web servers that power a number of popular Web sites, none of which the department has yet identified.


The threat of infection is so high because the code created to exploit the loophole has somehow been placed on many popular websites. Experts say the list of compromised sites involves banks, auction and price comparison firms and is growing fast.



June 23, 2004
Business Process Management (2)

Worldwide Interoperability Demonstration of ASAP & WfXML 2.0


Presented by The Workflow Management Coalition (WfMC)

Demonstration of interoperability among three vendors and two open source initiatives (Fujitsu, Staffware, a client, Handysoft, and another)

ASAP = the Asynchronous Standard Access Protocol. Enter the URLs and the metadata hooks up automatically.

We're watching an interchange of activities on a live flowchart. Then we check the XML code and find that indeed the transaction made its way through the various organizations. Untouched by human hands. This is a virtual replay of pounding in the golden spike.

ASAP can be used today to link systems easily. Next step is to go through OASIS Process, but this is ready to go now.

WfMC is looking to design tool vendors to demo ability to upload and download process definitions using Wf-XML 2.0 in January 2005. Wf-XML 3.0 has "containers" which hold "factories." The URL of the factory automatically calls the details for the "instance" which includes the "activity." The activity contains two blocks of XML Schema: the data and the … The SOAP protocol carries this.

John Pike from Staffware, chair of the WfMC, points out how significant is the demo we have just seen. This was a historic moment.

Panel: Business Process Innovation


Tom Dwyer, Principal, Beagle Research Group, and a panel

Things in process are getting less visible, which is a sign of maturity - when things don't get in the way. The business used to be measuring, monitoring, and improving inefficient processes. The new objective is to use processes for innovation.

1. Innovation = application of an invention (something new) that brings benefit.

2. Two key elements are collaboration and knowledge flow.

3. Process innovation = requires a structured approach of experimentation, education....

Some of the panelists offer all-in-one, others focus on only rules or analysis. It's like assembling cars.

"Process Management Tools should be on the desk of every business user" (says Proforma).

Where is the demand for innovation coming from?

" Need a champion of processes and rules together (says a guy who sells both).
" Demand comes from the business that wants improvement in a process.
" Innovation is overwhelmingly making an existing process better rather than creating processes de novo (Fair Isaac)
" Next processes instead of best practices - things that haven't been automated before (SAP)
" No, most of it's new applications (ProForma, which covers only the analysis and planning end of things)

Where is motivating the demand for process innovation? (Jay.) Okay, I asked a bit more.

I've worked in a number of new industries, and every one had the implementation advice you guys just gave:

  • Get executive sponsorship
  • Start small, score a quick win
  • Talk up the payback
  • People matter, include all the stakeholders
  • Avoid analysis paralysis
What really motivates process innovation?

New paradigm. Higher level, where orgs think of process and rules as assets. Build for change.

Supply side business. We build it and then figure out what to do with it. We back into it.

Fair Isaac actually answered the question.

" Stay out of jail - compliance
" Profitability - cost cuts
" IT - infrastructure cost to high

Bottom up, top down, general awareness…it's pervasive. People are buying into it at different levels.

" Next practices. (says SAP)
" Ad hoc workflow vs. workflow in the silo.
" Seeking competitive advantage (buy, buy, buy says the vendor)

[Uh-oh. The vendors on the panel as jostling for position, only presenting examples that tout the value of their own solutions.]

Tom Dwyer observed that in high tech, we often invent something and later find the use for it. BPM is there. We're reverse-engineering the benefits from the invention.

I can imagine another back-formation from process centricism. When a business manager is confronted with the profit contribution of one way of doing things versus another, won't she want to take the option that's best economically? Will the long-term benefits of lasting processes get American business leaders to think more than one quarter ahead? Eventually, if corporations become truly transparent, market analysts could rate companies not only on earnings but also on whether they're focused on the long term or the short.

Doug Engelbart's name is reverberating in my head. Improve the process. Improve the process of improving the process.

BRP is the logic of business laid bare. No fluff. No politics. Just here's how it happens. It's a roadmap people can understand. Like a mural of a meeting, it enables people to talk about what works and what doesn't without getting personal about it. The map is agnostic. Everyone's goal is to make it better. Furthermore, thanks to smart software, the value of choosing this option instead of that is automatically generated and explicitly stated.

The Process-Centric Company & Business Process Frameworks



by Paul Harmon, Editor, BP Trends

Business process is hot. At least as hot as BPR in '93-'94 but this time the interest is broader, which means it will have more staying power.

Customer focus. The Internet has had an impact on the awareness of executives. How quick can I get through the seller's website?

Better control
Reduce costs
Mergers

Process-Centric Company = A company that is organized, structured, measured and managed in terms of business processes. (Most companies are still function-centric.) This is more in the talking stage than the reality.

Electrocomponents plc, 743 million pounds
Download Annual Report
www.electrocomponents.com
Chief Process Officer: Richard Butler
CEO, CFO, CPO

Lots of work on alignment in the 90s was horizontal, integrations from supplier to customer. New alignment is vertical: integrated measures, managers, and resources. The vertical lets management conceptualize the business and therefore to change

SEI CMM Process Maturity Levels, used to assess software by DoD but is a good touchstone for assessing process maturity. From ad hoc to process improvement. Most companies are only at about 2.5. They don't have measures that tie to strategic goals.

Strategy and Goals
Business Process Architecture
Implementation: Employees/Systems
Six sigma/OMG model-driver architecture
Business Process Outsourcing = how to focus on core
Outsourcers are good prospects for BPM

Different groups want to discuss different pieces of the triangle.

Business Process Frameworks
Aka Reference Models, Templates
High level descriptions of a set of processes, measures, best practices
Provide a package that allows an analyst to treat a given process as an instance of a class of similar processes (they characterize processes at a high level)

Examples

1. Supply Chain Council (SCOR). 700 companies. How to link up processes at a high level and how to measure them. (Check their layers of modeling) This is essentially meta-processing mapping. Plan ' Source 'Make ' Deliver. At a one-day meeting, a dozen people from many companies spend the morning learning the terminology and notation; in the afternoon they create and agree upon a global, interoperable supply chain. An independent auditing agency provides benchmark data to other in an industry. The Benchmark enables you to assess your level of profitability if your performance were average. Management Plan and HR Best Practices are part of SCOR.

2. TeleManagement Forum eTOM, implemented in IT as NGOSS, their expanded architecture.

3. HPs Extended SCOR Architecture. In the Compaq merger, they modeled both the HP and the Compaq supply chain where each company had a similar process. Which process provides the best profit opportunity? Instead of a list of software apps, the supply chain guys presented a blueprint and financials. Now HP has taken this to marketing, sales, and manufacturing. It works great at HP, but since it's proprietary, it doesn't facilitate conversing with partners. (Two newly established councils are working on taking this to marketing and sales functions.) See www.supply-chain.com
for the latest; this only happened last week.

BP Frameworks are a major opportunity for companies to significantly improve their business process practices. Nothing else offers BP practitioners the speed.


Gary Chan, IT manager, City of Walnut Creek

Gary Chan explained how the City of Walnut Creek implemented BPM, the results received, and the City's vision of the future. This was the first time I've heard the details of a far-ranging deployment that involved all employees and will eventually link all customers (residents) in City projects. Plus, they brought the entire project home for under $100,000 and in less than six months.

BPM is the execution of software, measures, and processes than enable rapid, more accurate, decision making. It makes for fiscal responsibility.

Had a manual system. Nothing real-time. Two-week old reports. Monitor project progress.

Implementation of Metastorm, from signing the contract to generating reports, took place in 5 ½ months. Six weeks for training. Now installing web version. The City no longer uses any other project management software.

Creating paperless environment. Little training required: they pick it up at the push of a button. On-demand reports. Tracks all project communications. Automated processes for approval and to escalate multi-level project changes. Let's public service employees who don't work 8 to 5 communicate with others.

The total tab for the software and some expert advice from the vendor was $85,000. The hold costs down, Walnut Creek did most of the process design in-house.

Walnut Creek is currently putting the app on the Web. They envision opening up the system to citizens. If you've got a pothole in the street in front of your house, you log it on the system and monitor the trouble ticket from there on.

Futures Panel

Difficulty implementing is that companies are not organized by process. We don't need to control so much as to do the right thing. How are our haphazard processes doing? Then how can we do them better?

This is all about making business more efficient, not about adding infrastructure.

BPM has an overall architecture for management.

What are our PKIs? How are we doing against those indicators? How could we do better? What's that worth?

Janelle: At the enterprise level, all the PKIs I know of are financial. (Should Workflow Institute help develop the intangible PKIs?)


One view: IT will come under the business managers. Contrarian: We've been there before. IT people think all Business people are idiots; the business people think IT people are idiots. Another contrarian view: When more people can make changes without coding than there are coders, things will change. Right now there is one BP analyst to every ten Java coders. It should be the other way around.

One view: IT vs. the business. IT should be the business.

Are there efforts to establish standards at a higher level, e.g. accounts receivable? There's SCOR. There are also semantics being developed for some 300 industries.

"Information Resource Management" covers everything IT should be doing.

Business Intelligence has demonstrated how coding can be delegated to business people. It's time for BPM to get on board.


The assembled crowd sings Happy Birthday to Greg Rock,
panel leader and CEO of Brainstorm Group.

From luncheon conversation:

Who's the #1 thought leader in this space? Geary Rummler.

Who do the vendors sell to? It's sort of like the training market. The natural buyers lack budget and clout. Few firms have a Chief Process Officer, so there's no natural prospect at the top level either.

I plan to summarize these reports and attach my consclusions. Then they'll go on the Workflow Institute site.


Your correspondent



June 22, 2004
Really Big

Think Big.

Yesterday I had lunch with Jinlei Ni, the former CEO of China's Beida-Online.

You've may have heard how China's telephone system leapfrogged poles and wires, heading from zero to cell phones with no intermediate stops.

Business in China is going through the roof, making almost unimaginable gains. Workers at all levels need business skills. Think of eLearning as the cell phone. Imagine leapfrogging instructors, classrooms, and chalk talks.

We may form a community of practice to tackle the challenge. Drop me an email if you'd like to be kept informed.



Business Process Management Conference


Brainstorm Group.Tuesday, June 22, 2004. Hyatt Regency, San Francisco Airport

Business Process Management – The Path to Becoming an Adaptive Organization

by Janelle Hill, METAGroup

Confusion among the terms: BPM, SOA, On Demand, Adaptive Organization. BPM includes integrating human activities with required data & systems.

True e-Business has yet to happen. Although process management theory is mature, process thinking & use of BPM technology is not.

Adaptability of Business Processes

  • Enhancements
  • Extensions
  • Corrections
  • Refinements

How much is too much? How often? Don’t do it all; do the processes that need to be adaptable.

To understand the bounds and potential of adaptability, business users must have an appreciation for the technologies.

Historical perspective

EDI Successes

EDI Failures

Standardized top business documents for reusability; standards based, bullet proof

Point to Point one-offs, hard-coded, complex, high cost, specialized skills, single implementation infrastructure (VAN), data interchange only



EAI/B2B Successes

EAI Failures

Brokered architecture encourages reuse, Simpler tools, metadata driven engine, Standaradized application adapters, Transport Choices

High entry cost, Specialized skills, Emphasis on data an message transformation, not process, Not bullet proof



BPM Advantages

·

Lowers costs with standards – fewer skills required, commoditization drives down software cost, leverages existing data nd process. E.g., $500K in 2002, $50-250I in 2004. Visual representation (BPMN). Open (XML). Supports multiple levels of process abstraction in the modeloing palette. Change the process and automatically change the code.

·


There's more! Continue reading...


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