Friday, July 02, 2010

Cases crystallize out of chaos

Coming via the bp3 blog by Scott Francis, Frank Micheal Kraft talks about Patterns of Knowledge Work. His discussion hits the point that many activities performed that are not 'production line' processes are really based on the activities of a knowledge worker: a person who is knowledgeable about what they do, and builds up structures around their work to keep stuff organized.

This ties into my discussion a week or two back that in my own client work, I've started to see how I can examine the records of business activities, the documents and paper reports, and track back through them. In doing so I build up a view of where the major business processes in an organization live, who does them, and at a high level at least, what the activities performed are. Amazingly, the often overlooked org chart helps me in seeing order in the chaos. It is interesting to me to see that there is a natural order to processes and information in business.

For Kraft, he talks about the three ideas he has come across:

  1. Managing my own knowledge work. As I wrote my own Adaptive Case Management system for my own knowledge work, I was able to organize my own work. As the number of cases increase – 3000 now including sub-cases – I become aware of patterns.

  2. Feedback from my first pilot. This was very interesting, because the main focus for my pilot is usability. Usability is strongly interwoven with these patterns of knowledge work.

  3. The things I always wanted to model, but never was able to. I governed the modeling of thousands of models of structured processes from all areas of business processes. But because the modeling language was only able to model predictable processes, I never was able to model unpredictable processes.

In my view, he has done with these three points what many business people have had to do -- build a mechanism for structuring his own work in a way that allows him to be productive and get value out of work he has done before. For many people, this is a matter of building a filing system, putting together checklists and tasklists, maybe even putting together an Access database recording people or indexing their files. Oh that, and never going on vacation, as nobody else can quickly pick up the structure and work with it.

Kraft has written his own Adaptive Case Management system, probably because he felt he could put some structure around the work he was doing, and that structure was adaptable enough to help others in their own work. With my own consulting and software work I have done a similar thing. And as Kraft says: "As with all knowledge work the result of my effort is not completely predictable. But I am making good progress.". 

I couldn't agree more. And with every new client or process I hit, more structure and flexibility crystallizes into something that benefits the next client down the line.

A post from the Improving It blog
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