Of Zealots and Incompetents… and BPM Blogs
Mark Cotgrove of Nimbus has recently gotten into the blogging game. He has a fresh perspective and a great writing voice. But out of his first 4 posts, two of them take personal shots at people I have a lot of respect for. First, he refers to Bruce Silver (and others, not named) as “BPMN Zealots“. Where I come from, zealot is a pretty serious insult. I would call Bruce an advocate of BPMN. But Bruce’s career precedes BPMN. So it isn’t as if he’s never seen UML or flow charts or other tools. He has. He’s found a tool that has helped him express processes, and he’s helped teach these tools to many other people. I find that grounds for respect, rather than derision (admittedly, Bruce and I sometimes pick on each other in blog comments, but it does not diminish my respect for his work). Mark’s summary is that BPMN is like Esperanto. Is it? Or is it like spreadsheets and flowcharts and whiteboard diagrams – things that lots of people have learned and put to good use (but certainly not everyone has learned them, nor has to). In his fourth post (“Phil Gilbert’s Never Seen Process Chaos“), he takes a shot at Phil Gilbert, with a backhanded compliment about his good presentation last year at BPM 2010. But beyond that, he says:
Here’s my thinking; If you’ve come from the world of BPA and BPMS/process automation, (which is the enormous majority of people in the process space, so I think this probably applies to pretty much every BPM commentator), then you are unconsciously incompetent to talk about massive deployment of process into an organisation.So, you’re saying Phil is incompetent, right? I guess I would propose back to Mark: you don’t know what you don’t know, about people in the BPM field. Moving on…
And it might sound warm, fuzzy and attractive to western sensibilities but I can tell you it is an utter mess. You get exactly what Phil is proposing; loads of people building content, really getting into it, communicating like mad, and guess what? No value and ultimately frustrated people. This is one case where out of the chaos no beautiful order emerges…Right, we wouldn’t want the unwashed masses to implement their own processes for things that don’t rise to the volume, scope, and $ value of the typical BPM project. What Mark is describing sounds more like what used to happen with SharePoint (or Excel). Loads of SharePoint sites and no one knows where to go to initiate the process they want to interact with. (But, that isn’t what Phil was proposing in his talk last year… ) I’d love to know more about what Nimbus does, and how it approaches this thing most of us call BPM (but some call ACM as well). I read Ian’s posts regularly and follow him on Twitter. Mark’s early blog posts show great promise for an entertaining read. But I, for one, hope his critiques will be more of others’ opinions and ideas, without demeaning their competency nor their reasoning capabilities. I’m just not a big fan of the personal shots – maybe Mark or others won’t consider them such, but that’s how they read to me. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed, in this BPM space, there’s more than meets the eye to most of the personalities and “BPM Commentators”.