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