Intertwingled Work and Adaptive Case Management

July 6, 2010 | | Posted by Greg Lloyd

Tuesday July 6, 2010: As promised, John Tropea posted a comprehensive analysis and synthesis on observable work and Adaptive Case Management (and much more) titled: Have we been doing Enterprise 2.0 in reverse : Socialising processes and Adaptive Case Management It's a great post that's long for a very good reason: John pulls together many themes with well-sourced references and quotes [ another apology to the easily distracted ]. I won't use this comment to summarize all of the points I find interesting and valuable - there's a lot to come back to! I'll will try to summarize one theme John develops that seems directly relevant to Intertwingled Work.

1) Adaptive Case Management is a data rather than process centric way of looking at how people deal with situations centered around a particular problem, issue, or case. It's intended to support people who need to make decisions that depend on complex and unpredictable circumstances associated with the case that require judgment and knowledge work rather than application of a deterministic process. Think of a doctor treating a patient.

2) Observable work can be thought of as an object of Adaptive Case Management, focusing discovery, analysis, requests for advice or assistance and recording of outcomes on the work itself. This centers collaboration on the case (or work object) rather than trying to create a fixed set of business rules or a rigidly repeatable transactional process where none exists. John quotes Ken Swenson:

" ... Because the process is emergent, you have to model the process using something that people can read, add to, and manipulate readily while they are doing other things. With knowledge work, it is not the case that you have a dedicated business analyst to work and get the process model just right; instead the actual case worker needs to do it on the fly."

3) Connecting collaboration to the object of observable work rather than a formal business process lines up very well with what Jordan Frank calls Emergineering! or Social Process Reengineering. Jordan describes the difference between Social and Business Process reengineering as the difference between orchestrating a unique response to the circumstances of a case, versus a futile attempt to capture a response as a rigid business process. Jordan quotes a customers' experience:

"... She was a master of what Paula Thornton recently coined as B2.0: Orchestrated Improvisation. Peggy understood the piece parts of what her orchestra members do in their daily work life, understood the process context in which they worked, and, like a good conductor, was able to lead them, like any good conductor, to play together to the symphonic challenge of the day - which was sure to be ever changing but followed certain patterns and basic structures. Whether the technology was new-fangled or old didn't matter - the key was her ability to figure out What, How and Why. Then she could explain the new process (loosely described as a set of interleaved intelligence communities) and how people could use the technology to do their jobs better."

Summary: The idea of connecting collaboration to observable work is at the heart of what Doug Engelbart has taught for decades. One of the most important lessons I draw from Doug's work is that to support effective collaboration, work needs to be both observable and addressable. That seems to be a necessary condition to support Adaptive Case Management using software. Addressable Work might be a better term for what I've tried to discuss in Intertwingled Work - but Ted Nelson deserves a shout out too!

See Intertwingled Work