Posted by: Adam Deane | 05/11/2010

The BPMN Tea Party

Obama BPMNI’m trying to watch TV, but the American elections are all over the news. When it comes to American politics I’m pretty much clueless.

So what have I picked up so far…
As I understand Obama was voted in on a platform of change.
He started off with high approval ratings.

When America was licking its wounds from the economic crisis, the President focused on the Health Insurance Law instead of focusing on unemployment. A public wave of bitterness swept through America.
People felt Obama was not attentive to the feelings of the public.

The American voters hit him over the head.
Now Obama will have a hard time implementing change. Not good for Obama. Not good for America.
The writing was on the wall..

How’s that for a political analysis? Ah?
Rubbish, I know, but it helps me here in making a point.

BPMN leaders – The writing is on the wall.
The People have requested that you simplify BPMN, make it more accessible to business users.

I’m not going to open a new debate on BPMN. Just raise a concern.
Like Obama in his early days, BPMN is currently enjoying a high approval rating.
The war over notations has ended, and BPMN has won (It has a majority in both house and senate)
BPMN promises that it will bring “Change you can Trust” to businesses.
The BPM public are completely behind BPMN. A new era has begun.

The question is: Will the BPMN leaders, consortiums, associations and standard setters – will they make it simpler for business users.
Now is the best time to implement BPMN changes. There are no political pressures, no money passed under the table. You have a golden opportunity to get things moving…

Now you can continue saying that anyone asking for BPMN change must be a radical BPM right wing fanatic”, “BPM left wing” or a “BPM liberal”.
You can continue saying to yourself that it’s not even an issue…. But it is.

Take for example Alec Sharp‘s latest article: A Practitioner’s Perspective

Alec, in a very calm and non-provocative way explains the BPMN complexity problem.
He’s not trying to lock horns, quite the opposite: Alec’s attitude is “live and let live”.
Maybe divide it into two specifications, one for business users, one for techies.
Alec is one of the people in the field that BPMN leaders should be listening to.
He is not the only one. Alec’s views are shared by many in the BPM industry.

The writing is on the wall… Let’s not wait till mid-term elections…

Enjoy your weekend.


  1. Adam –

    Thanks for referencing my recent BPTrends article in your post, and thanks as well for stressing that I’m not trying to lock horns, just come up with methods that meet some very different needs but related needs. One is helping a diverse group understand and improve/redesign a business process, and the other is specifying detailed rules and logic. I got a lot of positive Twitter commentary about the column, with my favourite being Chris Bennetts-Cash’s point: “Reassuring I’m not the only simpleton wanting to communicate with people not machines.” (@chris-bc)

    The analogy comparing the BPMN situation and the current US political system caught me off guard, but now seems quite apt. I have countless friends and acquaintances in the US, all lovely people, and because of this I’m constantly reminding myself “the US political system doesn’t actually reflect the US people.” In the same way, we hear a great deal about BPMN from standards bodies, trade organisations, vendors, pundits, “elites” of all stripes, and so on, but they don’t necessarily reflect what’s happening on the Main Street of real projects and initiatives.
    Thanks for your usual entertaining but also thought-provoking post.

  2. Oh no. Invoking American politics is a very painful analogy. Let’s stay calm, people.

    (We may be headed to a BPMN Rally to Restore Sanity.

    Because shouting is annoying, counterproductive, and terrible for your throat; and because the loudest voices shouldn’t be the only ones that get heard.

    Now that’s an analogy I can get behind.

    • Thanks Mickey…. (mmm, you’ve reminded me I haven’t done a post about the French… )
      Maybe Inspector Clouseau on the trail of Pink Panther and the stolen open source… 😉

  3. I think the authors of BPMN should learn from good examples, e.g. HTML (many non-professionals in publishing started to publish their documents in HTML).

    At present, around HTML there is a set of coherent standards which separate different _concerns_: a) xHTML for structure and content, b) CSS for presentation, c) DOM-based API for dynamic modifications, and d) some other specialized standards. And, very important, there is _architecture_ which gives the context for all those standards.

    Good acceptance of HTML (all vendors are checking conformance of their product with considerably reduces development efforts – previously 25 % has been spent for covering “specific features” of popular Web browsers. As well as this is a base for moving to HTML5.

    In the case of BPMN we have neither real standards (just publicly available specifications) nor architecture.


    • Thanks Alexander,

      I’m hoping that the BPMN folk will pick up on the gentle poke.


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