Proposal for a Book

1 12 2009
“The most important, and indeed the truly unique, contribution of management in the 20th century was the fifty-fold increase in the productivity of the manual worker in manufacturing. The most important contribution management needs to make in the 21st century is similarly to increase the productivity of knowledge work and the knowledge worker.”
– Peter F Drucker, Management Challenges for the 21st Century

Knowledge worker productivity is the most important management imperative faced by the majority of organizations today – cutting across commercial sectors, non-profit, and notably all sectors of government. Knowledge workers today account for the largest (and growing) sector of the workforce, yet this working population has not enjoyed the same benefits delivered through the previous generations of process technologies aimed at more formalized work. sdfsdf sd fsd fsd f

Corporate profitability, reigning growing deficits, meeting research and development goals, delivering affordable healthcare – all depend on knowledge worker productivity. Knowledge workers are highest paid resources of most firms and represent a disproportionate amount of the organizations expenses. Already the routine job functions that can be easily automated, have been. Organizational competitiveness is now dependent on productivity of knowledge work and the knowledge worker.

What appears is a noticeable gap for support of knowledge work, which is less predictable than Human Workflow, but still could benefit from something better than email.

“While BPM has been helping with “heads down” process workers for a while now, BPM needs to move to supporting more people activities. This is particularly important as knowledge workers need support for their kinds of unstructured processes and the kind of collaboration that they are migrating to going forward.”
– Gartner Vice President, Jim Sinur

There are many names for the technology that supports knowledge workers. For example: Human Interaction Management, Human Coordination Management, Collaborative Planning, Dynamic Process Management, and a variety of different specializations of Case Management. Strictly speaking, Case Management is the name of the work being performed, and the name of the technology to support that is still in flux.

Support for knowledge work, and particularly Case Management, is likely to be a major topic of debate in 2010. Most major analysts have introduced the theme this past year. Gartner talks about “Unstructured Process Support”. Forrester talks about “Smart Case Management”. Bruce Silver started a blog site in 2009 to focus on the subject of “Case Management”. The National Center for State Courts talks about “Configurable Case Management”. In all cases they mentioned as rising trends that are not yet fully understood

Why Now?

“Yes, straight through processes have their place. And yes, BPM tackles many back office, transactional processes that don’t have a heavy or even moderate collaboration angle. But there’s a huge world of work out there that involves e-mail and BI reports and documents—and we will truly put a dent in productivity time sinks if we can somehow get our arms around the entire world of work—not just that part that involves swim lanes, role activity diagrams and BPMN.”
– Forrester Vice President, Connie Moore

Improving knowledge worker productivity requires addressing space which lies between Email which is used by nearly 100% of all knowledge workers yet offers little with regard to task management, and Workflow/BPM with is far prevalent and premised on predictable work patterns defined in advance. We might visually depict these related trends of IT with the vertical dimension running the line of predictability, and time on the horizontal. Highly predictable work is easy to support using traditional programming techniques, while unpredictable work cannot be accurately scripted in advance, and so requires the involvement of the workers themselves.

Filling the gap between ad-hoc tools and structured process management is the emerging area of Adaptive Case Management. Today is a reality, availability to all firms seeking to improve the productivity of knowledge work and assist the knowledge worker, by making smart choices and applying best practices. It is in the simplest sense, the formalization of “business” within “business process management,” a sector otherwise too often relegated to the IT back office.

Early experiments with email and office automation in the 70’s and 80’s saw email solving all patterns of work. Today email remains the provenance of unpredictable invent-as-you-go work and manually implemented processes. Email has newer cousins: SMS, Instant Message, Texting, and Twitter which all support unpredicted actions.

The late 80’s and 90’s brought a wide range of workflow products, of many flavors, with the vision to support all kinds of work. In the 2000’s this came to mean a kind of document and task routing with flexible, but determined rules.

Late 90’s saw the introduction of Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) which led to Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and has been used heavily for Straight Thru Processes (STP) which supports of highly formalized, predictable processes today.

Business Process Management (BPM) became a buzzword around 2002, and again was promised to handle all kinds of work, with better integration than workflow, and still flexibility. In the past two years the meaning of BPM has resolved to those processes which orchestrate web service calls.

It is important to remember this is an undefined and rapidly subject area, and there is today no broad consensus on the subject. Instead of trying to manufacture a consensus, the purpose of this book is to give the executive distinct, cogent viewpoints, on what the needs of knowledge workers are, and view on how those needs can be met by evolving technology.


Mastering the Unpredictable will represent the collective know-how of leading experts in the field of business process management and knowledge worker productivity, presents as seamless a collection of individually written contributions, under a common framework and vernacular.

The authors include:

Keith D Swenson – Vice President of R&D at Fujitsu, Keith long time association with the Workflow Management Coalition, published many papers in 90’s on “Collaborative Planning” and lead development on a product that supports “Dynamic Processes”.

John T Matthias – a highly-visible and well-respected executive at the National Center for State Courts, John has written extensively on case management used with the state courts, and on technological trends.

Max J Pucher – Founder and Chief Architect of ISIS Papyrus, a content management vendor. He is a well-known writer and speaker, who is outspoken on the gap in support for knowledge work.

Henk de Man – Research Director at Cordys, is a well known proponent of advanced in Case Management, and has been at the center of recent movements for creating a formalized language for Case Management.

Jacob Ukelson – Chief Technical Officer for ActionBase Incorporated, a well respected leading technologist with new products aimed at supporting knowledge workers.

Dave Hollingsworth – Senior Consultant for Healthcare Industry in the Case Management practice at Fujitsu Services, and was instrumental in laying out the WfMC Workflow Reference Model 14 years ago.

Dana Khoyi – VP of Development for Global 360, a thought leader in the area of case management, and the architect of an influential product in the space.

Tom Shepherd – Director of Product Management for Global 360’s Case Management product.

Dermot McCauley – Director at Singularity, an innovative Case Management company. He writes and speaks regularly on the topic of how to achieve Business Agility.

Nathaniel Palmer – Chief BPM Strategist of SRA International, Inc., as well as Editor of and Executive Director of the Workflow Management Coalition, Nathaniel was recently named by Influencer 50 among the Top Ten (#2) most influential people in the field of Business Process Management.

(Note: this text was the original pitch for the book in November 2009)




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