Many moons ago I wrote an article on neural workflow. The concept of taking a neural net approach and adopted it to business processes instead of how they are currently done which is more of a source sink based concept. I have thought a little bit more about the concept and I thought I would share my thoughts.
First businesses gain a lot by having systems that help automate and manage their source/sink based processes however businesses are more then the sum of their processes. If you were to draw a directed graph of communication or the flow of information within an organization it would look a lot like a neural network. Workflow / BPM as it becomes more advanced is moving away from merely trying to automate ‘Standard Processes’ to automating larger, more dynamic and disorganized processes.
When you start to embed workflows within multiple other workflows you are starting to create a kind of neural net. Although I have never had a hand in creating a workflow A, which creates an instance of workflow B, which in turn creates a new instance of workflow A I can envisage many instances where this may be required. I am sure one if not more tools can already handle these kinds of scenarios, but are they effectively communicating the overlaying structure to designers in an easy to understand way?
How do we learn to speak neural net as opposed to flow chart?
Well the current tools / Notations / Standards for expressing neural nets are not as easy to work with as with sources as sinks. Source Sinks can usually be read top to bottom or left to right. Even the most complex processes can usually be mapped onto a two dimensional piece of paper. With Neural nets it’s a lot more difficult. There are just too many interconnections and not enough and there isn’t a side of the page for sources and one side of the page where the sinks are suppose to be. Maybe we need some sort of 3 dimensional structures.
I believe ‘neuralness’ is the way forward as businesses are neural entities and not just a series processes. The challenge for workflow will be to deliver easy to understand solutions for these problems.
..Yet again I ramble.