The First BoK Kerfuffle in #BPM

  • March 8, 2011
  • Scott

Looks like the PKBoK and the ABPMP BoK may not play nice in the same sandbox.  PKI have their sights set on an open collaboration around a body of knowledge for BPM that is transparent and freely available, to advance a common understanding of the state of the art.  Its hard to fault their mission, or Sandy Kemsley’s characterization of her involvement:

I’m a firm believer in free and open information exchange – not always a popular view amongst independents like myself who make our living selling our knowledge and experience to organizations – and that principle is why I became involved in the Process Knowledge Initiative and its creation of an open-source body of knowledge for process information. The idea of the PKI’s BoK […] is that the BPM community needs a body of knowledge that is freely available to all, and where everyone in the community can contribute. To that end, we’ve launched a public wiki that contains some starting framework pieces for the BoK, and are starting to accept community contributions in the form of public comments. Soon, I hope, we will have enough in place to open this up for community editing; in order to do that, we need to have some safeguards in place to make sure that special interests don’t hijack the conversation.

But, Sandy tells us, the ABPMP sees this effort as a competitive threat to their own BoK.  I think ABPMP is in the unenviable position of trying to fight the future.  As if you couldn’t already find good information on BPM on wikipedia, and among the many blogs on the internet, they seem to feel threatened by the notion of another BoK:

The ABPMP “Presidents Annual Report 2010” provided a financial and legal update that included the statement “Due to the increase in trademark filings, our legal costs will be an ongoing fixed cost of doing business going forward and will be budgeted on an annual basis to align our trademark filings with our growth strategies outside the US.” In other words, they’re using my membership fees to pay their lawyers to sue others who attempt to create bodies of knowledge in the BPM space where the name might possibly be confused with the ABPMP BPM CBOK. Tony Benedict, president of ABPMP International, already fired a warning shot at the PKI with an email stating “You cannot use BPM BOK in any of your publications, digital or otherwise as it violates our trademark.  Please refrain from doing so or ABPMP will take legal action.” This is not how I want my ABPMP membership fees spent. Also, we never used the term “BPM BoK”.

There’s only one part of ABPMP’s argument I can agree with: I sure wish the Process Knowledge Initiative would *not* use a term like BoK.  It is awkward phrasing and really a wiki better captures the spirit of what professionals in the BPM space are looking for anyway.

I hardly think ABPMP is doing itself any favors in this instance.  Instead, they should be contributing to PKI’s efforts – and if they continue to sell their own BoK, do so as a curated body of knowledge written by select experts, rather than a community site.  I think there is a market for both.


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  • I find it mildly amusing that anybody really thinks their BPM opinions are “trade secrets” that must be jealously guarded.

    As a frequent BPM blogger, I do sometimes see “my” ideas posted elsewhere without attribution – but in reality I have never had an original thought in my life. Everything that I (think) I know about BPM I learned in conjunction with others – working out in the field to build solutions or back in the lab trying to figure out a better way.

    If you really know your stuff, then there will always be work for you. If you’re just spouting some idea you stole off the web, then your career is going to be very, very short.

    • we’ll all be better off if people share more in BPM , rather than less.

      • In complete agreement with both of you (if that’s not already obvious). John, I especially like your last paragraph, since that’s the creed that I live by, too. These aren’t exactly state secrets that we’re talking about.

        Scott, would love your suggestions for what to call it besides a body of knowledge — that term seems to be well-understood and does describe what we’re creating. To call it a wiki is misleading, since that’s just the tool that we’re using to create it, and we need something that is more descriptive of the content and purpose itself. Maybe “BPM Bible”? 😉

        • Please let’s not use the word “bible” 🙂
          To most people, wiki isn’t the tool – its that place you go for information. I realize, to techies, they understand there’s a tool… but there are many tools that provide wiki functionality. So really wiki is a concept. A community-edited repository of information.

          BPM Wiki would be great. BPM KnowledgeBase
          BPM Best Practices
          BPM Compendium.
          I’m sure we can come up with some ideas 🙂

          I’m going back to hoarding my state secrets 😉

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