Posted by: Adam Deane | 18/10/2010

BPM Innovation – Are we missing a trick

BPM InnovationI was sitting in one of my local restaurants.
On the table you had the regular items: a salt and pepper shaker, two small bottles of olive oil and lemon juice, and sugar for the coffee.
I was observing two female students giggling in the corner table. They had ordered a small lunch, and asked the waiter for a jug of water.
When the water arrived, they poured in the lemon juice, added the sugar, stirred.. and voila: lemonade.

“Cheeky” I said as I smiled to myself. I looked down at my drink, and asked myself “why didn’t you think of that?”

Today, I walked into Starbucks to get myself a coffee. Waited in line, paid, waited for them to make it, and then took the coffee to the small condiment bar where they have the sugar, sweeteners, milk, skimmed milk, additional plastic cups, and the chocolate and vanilla sprinkles .

A old man walked up next to me, smiled, said “good morning”, then took a plastic cup, poured in milk, sprinkled it heavily with chocolate, stirred, and voila: Chocolate Milk.

I had to smile. All the ingredients were in front of me, and I would never have thought of it in a million years. Simple innovation.
(Forget the money, forget the time I spent in the queue, he probably made a better drink than I had.)

On the way back home I started thinking:
BPM is a methodology that we blindly follow. We are programmed to think and work in a certain way. Nothing wrong with that. But are we missing an opportunity. Are we looking at all the ingredients in BPM and missing that simple innovative idea.


  1. Hi Adam,
    It’s certainly true that the best technology in the world can’t make up for inspiration in uncovering opportunities to change things for the better.
    One of the things that I find interesting about BPM practice, though, is that even without any deep initial inspiration it’s still possible to lay the groundwork… BPM technology can be used to structure, automate and monitor the flow of work in an “as is” situation, and it’s then possible to use insights from your monitoring to try and cajole inspiration from people – it gives clues that people can then pick away at to uncover opportunities.
    Of course, structuring, automating and monitoring an “as is” situation requires skills too… as well as good leadership. No substitute for that.

  2. Adam, some BPM people out there may be missing the trick, but I’m not. I use the CEM Method (customer experience management) to improve business processes and it’s an incredibly effective way in bringing innovation to business processes. I suggest you check it out.

    Cheers, TPN

    • Hi Craig,

      Could you please point me to information on CEM, and also about “Outside In”.
      I’d like to research it a bit.


  3. […] Establishing methodologies, guide-rails and best-practices that are relevant and tailor-made to the context of a particular organization can help getting BPM to deliver, but at the same time, micro-level detailing means you run the risk of taking the eye off the big picture, off improvisations  – somewhat like the Starbucks experience Adam Deane discusses  in his last post. […]

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