Business Process is Doomed – Observed Reality is not Fundamental!

Earth, Air, Fire, and Water are not fundamental for the universe. So as the business process is not fundamental for organizations. A business process is the reduction of fundamentals of organizations. Business process is a simple user interface on how we understand and are taught to think about things happening around us.

Let me explain it in more detail. Imagine you want to write an email; what do you do? You open a client (a browser), and you go to a website (Gmail, live, etc.), then you click on a “compose” button, after an entry screen appears, you start writing your emails by typing them on a keyboard.

In this analogy of composing an email, at what point did you think about the computer’s motherboard’s transistors, chips, and CPU? What about how they work together? Or even the Operating System (OS) that runs your browser, let alone the programming languages such as HTML, JavaScript, TypeScript, etc., used to build the browser application (email client) that enables you to compose an email?

Although many people like to believe the business process is fundamental to organizations, that’s very similar to thinking the fundamental of how you are empowered to compose an email easily is the browser, website, and keyboard. It is true to some extent from your viewpoint as the user (observed reality), but the issue with this line of thinking is we limit ourselves to our perceived abstraction of the real fundamental of the organization.

Business Decision is a Fundamental Element of Organizations

Organizations have a mission and vision (or at least one of them). The founders, CEO, and other executives make assumptions and have hypotheses about how to lead the organization to its vision by making a series of decisions. Then they execute, test, and experiment with those decisions based on their outcomes.
As we get further and further away from this level in organizations, we get to work in a more process-oriented fashion, for instance:

  • process-driven methodology to build software solutions (e.g. agile methodologies),
  • the sequences of outreach activities to find customers,
  • the best practices of go-to-market strategies and so on.

But even at this level, the process still is a reduction of a series of decisions.

You may ask how? In a very simple form, a process is a series of tasks (actions, activities, etc.) that happen one after another, with some control flow (gateways) that routes a case to different paths.

So, in the above process, it starts with task “Ship Products”, and when the task “Ship Products” is completed, the next tasks are either “Contact Airline” or “Contact Port”. When any of them is completed, the next task is “Prepare Delivery Notes”. In cases where we have more tasks and gateways the same principle applies. Of course, more complex criteria to be evaluated for the main question, which is, “what is the next step to be taken”?

A process depicts the sequences and, based on where an execution (a specific case) is at a certain point in time (and maybe based on some other external/internal information as well), the process tells us what to do next.

As you see, the fundamental of a process at the level of the process looks like tasks and gateways and etc., and that’s the reduced model of interaction between many decisions in the organization. Reductionism helps simplify things that are complex in nature and creates a simple user interface to view a complex world and make sense of it.

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Why does this matter?

Earth has many different elements that project themselves onto something called earth. Where would we’ve been in terms of human advancement if we were fixated on the idea that the earth, air, fire, and water are fundamentals of the universe? Could we get to where we are today with that thinking? We are in a state of technological and scientific advancement today because we have started to understand, work and explore the fundamentals.

Processes are important and we should still do process work. I agree with that to some extent; however, when we look to improve things in an organization, it does matter to not to look through your user interface i.e. business process.

As if we wanted to improve the user experience (UX) of the “email client”, we don’t replace icons and change colors. We need to look beyond the user interface and the abstract “perceived reality”, to find the core fundamental areas we should improve. For the example “email client”, we look into website performance, more straightforward user navigation, ease of use on multiple devices, accessibility elements, speed of type prediction, automatic grammar and sentence checks, and, potential options for UI design. As a result, the positive side effect of improving the fundamentals of the “email client” is the improved user experience (UX).

The same reasoning on fundamentals and principles for the “email client” applies to organizations and how they run and how to empower people in the organization to achieve their goals, innovate and exceed in what they do. To improve processes, you need to investigate the fundamental of the process, and that’s not going to happen inside the process thinking and framework. On the contrary, to improve your processes, you need to look beyond and look into the fundamental of the processes, that are business decisions and business knowledge. Therefore, you will need to model, understand, execute and experiment with all types of business decisions e.g. operational, tactical, and strategic – and reiterate.

Taking business decisions as fundamental of organizations and using them to improve different aspects of business operations (including business processes) is what I call making business decisions the first-class citizen of organizations. That’s how you can truly improve business processes and enable organizations to adapt and strive in changing environments.

Last updated December 22nd, 2022 at 03:49 pm, Published December 21st, 2022 at 03:49 pm