The challenge in any organization is to document the processes in the enterprise as the knowledge of the processes is sometimes tacit – in the heads of the people performing the tasks in the processes. Once the processes are documented, there is a constant need for improving the process continuously. How do the improvement cycles be made effective and continuous?

Here we can take some analogy from manufacturing and industrial revolution. The industrial revolution brought with it the concept of assembly line. But how effective was it in continuously improving the quality of the goods and making the process more efficient? The book by Jeffery Liker, The Toyota Way, details how Japanese car makers were able to continuously improve their assembly lines.

The approach that Japanese car manufacturers took for continuous improvement consists of participation and trust of the people on the assembly line. Coming back to the business processes, for continuous improvement of processes, the participation of the participants is a must have. If Business Process Management were to rely on success of Japanese cars in the market, this participation is a must.

To represent such a practice, I termed (Direct) Democratic Processes. Wikipedia defines Direct Democracy as

Direct democracy, classically termed pure democracy, comprises a form of democracy and theory of civics wherein sovereignty is lodged in the assembly of all citizens who choose to participate. Depending on the particular system, this assembly might pass executive motions, make laws, elect and dismiss officials and conduct trials.

The key word being participation. Direct Democratic processes are about allowing the people actually performing the tasks to find ways of doing their work better. It is about trusting them with the challenge of improving the processes.

Social tools and other 2.0 technologies play a very important role in enabling “The Toyota Way” in BPM. What do you think?

In the next posts, I would like to dwell into pragmatic approach for enabling direct democratic processes in an organization