Innovating Organizations With @ismiro

Michael Rosemann from Queensland University of Technology gave a joint keynote at IRM BPM/EA. He proposes that current BPM and EA approaches provide only limited support to corporate innovation: as he put it, we just put 100 people in a brainstorming session and hope that one of them has a good idea. Instead, we have to consider having ambitions and plans to achieve innovation, and support a conscious innovation competence and innovation process with the methodologies of BPM and EA. In other words, we need to be aware of how we innovate successfully.

He started with the concept of what drives innovation: first of all, a current problem, and a vision of a goal. This reactive approach is what he calls core innovation, but often represents only incremental innovation; this is often what we see in process improvement techniques such as Lean. His recommendations for problem-driven innovation: capture goals in your enterprise architecture; identify capability gaps; consider processes and problems; and involve all stakeholders in problem identification.

Next, he discussed constraint-driven innovation, with is much more transformational. He discussed some examples, such as the mobile-driven innovations that we’re seeing in several different markets: mobile payments via mobile phones in Kenya, and a virtual grocery store in South Korea that allows shoppers to scan displays in subway stations that look like the grocery shelves and have their shopping cart of products delivered to them at home. Instead of looking at classic process improvement techniques, which tend to be incremental, consider the constraints: in Kenya, there are few banks but many mobile phones; in South Korea, people have no time for shopping but need to pass through the subway station on their way to work. Unfortunately, standard process models don’t model key constraints and context very well, so we need to increase the context-awareness of EA and process models, and understand how contextual changes impact architecture and process in order to address this. When we live in countries that have many fewer constraints, it can be beneficial to do “reverse innovation” where we go offshore to look for constraints in order to drive innovation, then bring that innovation back to locations of fewer constraints, where the competition are likely much less innovative. An interesting way to improve competitive differentiation in a rich market.

Third is opportunity-driven innovation; his example is a crème brulee vendor in San Francisco who tweets his location daily; this idea has caught on like wildfire in Toronto, where I live, with local gourmet food trucks that relocate each day. This type of innovation captures the “affordances”, such as ability to geolocate and publish that information, and are often driven by emerging technology such as social media. Interesting how much mobile phones are part of this type of innovation these days: the other example that he mentioned was an airport using the movement of mobile phone Bluetooth signals to track queuing time in security lines.

Considering both the transactional and transformation innovation, we need to start considering innovation as a process; currently EA and BPM practices don’t support his very well, since we don’t necessarily understand that innovation *is* a process, or how to go about describing that process, and we don’t model constraints and context very well. If we do understand innovation as a process, it’s often just the transactional, incremental innovation that is problem-driven, not the more transformational constraint or opportunity-driven type.

He described four ways to innovate:

  • Enhance current practices, by eliminating steps (often wait steps, but sometimes by virtualizing a real-world experience and offering at a lower price), resequencing (e.g., move payment to end of a cycle and move to usage-based pricing), and specializing (e.g., offering higher-priced alternatives that eliminate waiting). Whenever pricing is involved, in fact, you can always start looking at usage-based and time-based pricing innovation patterns; Rosemann has a number of different patterns that can be applied to help drive innovation.
  • Derive better practices, through learning from others with similar processes, potentially in other industries. By considering who else has the same sort of problems; applying process improvements in mortgage applications to improve job application processes, for example, which applies filtering at the start of the process in order to reduce the number of instances that require more time-intensive consideration later in the process. He listed a number of derivation patterns to consider: pre-approval, triage, usage-based pricing, automation, and brokering.
  • Utilize potential practices, by considering the unused cycle time for any given resource, and finding a use for it; examples of this are people who offer their home driveway as a parking space for commuters while they’re off at work themselves. There are a lot of idle resources out there at any given time, whether people, vehicles, computing time or physical space; the key is to find the utilization differential in your enterprise architecture, and find ways to use those underused resources. Identifying and using those resources is a big part of becoming consciously competent. In some cases, that means becoming a broker between the underused resources and the potential consumers of that resource.
  • Create new practices, based on creative lateral thinking, not traditional pattern-based thinking. Consider that creativity is the unconventional generation of new ideas, whereas innovation is the process that carries those ideas through to new products and services.

He ended with a summary of the innovation dimensions and techniques; I believe he has a paper published on this, which I’d love to read. Lots of great ideas here for driving innovation at any level in any type of business.

2 thoughts on “Innovating Organizations With @ismiro

  1. Michael rarely disappoints. One of a select few of people I have come across who whilst promoting BPM will approach the broader picture head-on and fill in any information gaps.

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