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Mastering the Unpredictable: How Adaptive Case Management Will Revolutionize the Way That Knowledge Workers Get Things Done (Landmark Books) Paperback – April 14, 2010

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Product Details

  • Series: Landmark Books
  • Paperback: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Meghan-Kiffer Press; 1st edition (April 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0929652126
  • ISBN-13: 978-0929652122
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #360,294 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I have been on a 25 year journey to try and find the keys to technology that will help people work together better. I started at the time that "Local Area Networks" were being invented, the promise of making an environment which could facilitate co-worker communication was evident, but not yet invented.

1980's: I participated in development of "Integrated Office Productivity Software" which was a market trend at the time to bring word processing, spreadsheets, database, etc together into a single package. At Software Products International we made a multi-user database, a multi-user spreadsheet, and even experimented with a multi-user word processor. At Ashton Tate, I worked on the Framework product which was the first to have email capability built into it, so sending documents, and even parts of documents, around to others was easy. We experimented there with automatically generated mailing lists, and collaborative working groups.

Early 1990's: I started a "Groupware Team" at Fujitsu to make a product to allow for "Collaborative Planning". The idea was this: you have a large team of people who need to accomplish a project. Different people are experts in different parts and different levels of the project. A manager or director may be able to identify the major steps that project has to go through, and how the work is divided up among sub-teams. Then each sub-team would extend the plan with their standard practices for their part of the work. Finally, each team member would extend the plan in ways that their experience has taught them. It is not just that everyone is doing what is optimized for them, but that everyone else on the team has visibility into what they are doing. Thus when the VP wants to know the current status, they can see the overall status, and drill down to the current details. It was evident to me that in a typical job an individual will be doing thing that are similar to what they had done before, they will want to reuse the process fragment that they had used last time, and possibly modify it slightly to fit the current situation. To do this, we need portable process fragments, and we need a graphical notation that non-programmers can use to describe the process fragments. Beyond planning, and showing status, this technology can also let people know when something is now ready to be worked on, so that is how "Regatta Technology" and "TeamWARE Flow" came into existence.

Late 1990's: I joined Netscape to develop tools that could leverage the web to do collaborative planning. I was Architect for "Visual JavaScript" and later "Process Manager" a workflow product which was difficult for a company like Netscape to sell & support. I did however make the first public proposal for a "web Service" in the form of "Simple Workflow Access Protocol" to the IETF in 1998. I moved to MS2 which was a start-up for Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). There I pioneered a flexible form of collaborative planning: processes that looked mostly like "to-do lists" and where the user was empowered to do an innovative type of process modification: they could "skip" steps if they chose to.

2000's: After the bust I came back to Fujitsu where i-Flow and Interstage BPM had been built upon the earlier design of TeamWARE Flow. This took the original collaborative planning ideas, and updated it for stronger integration to web services and REST integration. Because portable process fragments is still a key, I have spent a lot of time in recent years helping with the development of XPDL, Wf-XML, and most recently BPAF and Workcast. I agreed to chair the WfMC Technical Committee. The standards are secondary to the real goal: Global Collaborative Planning. The standards have to be in place to that all the pieces can talk to each other, without exclusion caused by proprietary implementations.

Future: There is still a huge potential for "Global Collaborative Planning". My original goal of increasing the effectiveness of workers in the office, and now moved to increasing the effectiveness of workers wherever they are, and however they are connected to the cloud. At the heart of all this is quite simple a way to communicate to each other about our tasks, plans, and processes. Each person needs some level of skill in communicating this, and then we need ways of reflecting this information around the Internet to the right person at the right time. When we succeed in this, and I have no doubt that we will succeed, then much of the drudgery of getting things done will be taken care of, and we as humans will be able to focus on new ideas for creating new things more effectively that we have ever done before.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Paul Harmon, Editor, Business Process Trends on July 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
For several years now, business process theorists have been concerned with describing the difference between processes that are more-or-less procedural in nature and slow to change and those processes that either change frequently, are very complex and difficult to describe, or both.

A good example of a procedural process that is slow to change is a production line situation where each assembly worker's job is precisely defined.

A good example of a complex, dynamic process is a process that generates proposals for major engineering undertakings. The process begins when the engineering firm receives a request for a bid. Someone at the firm analyzes the request to determine if the firm is even interested in bidding. Assuming the request is something the firm is interested in, a team is assembled to analyze the problem, design a solution and generate a bid. In the course of the project members of the team may send emails to colleagues around the world to find out about problems with similar jobs, to learn more about the needs of the company making the request, and to gather information about technologies that might be used. Similarly, there may be many meetings in which issues are argued out, solutions are discussed or the language of the final proposal is discussed. The proposal, when it is finally prepared and submitted may have characteristics in common with other proposals the engineering firm has submitted in the past, but it is also a unique response to a unique proposal. In other words, the response to the request was treated as a unique case. The approach and activities undertaken were adapted to the unique needs of the client and the skills of the team assembled to generate the proposal.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jim DeLong on June 17, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is not enough to expect the unexpected - you need to be equipped to handle it on the fly - and make it a powerful competitive edge. Mastering the Unpredictable is the handbook of this emerging discipline, Adaptive Case Management (ACM).

If you cannot envision this, do not worry, your competition will soon show you ... in ways that will shake you.

Few books can come out about "game changers" at the beginning of an incrediblly valuable paradigm shift ... a shift which just might change everything. Of those, fewer still can be viewed months later, with acknowledment that they "Got it", and made it easy for others to "Get it".

This book does it right. I finished this book knowing:

* What I have to do to get ready to use ACM;
* When I must do it; and
* What I'll be facing if I do nothing.

The organization and presentation of material matches the underlying elements of ACM. The layout, and excellent tools (glossary, abbreviation list, introduction, index, etc.), support an exciting first read, and easy later referencing. The examples and situations described apply to roles at all levels of an org chart - from C-level to front line knowledge worker. This makes my job of 'change agent' easier since I do not have to make nearly as many translations to communicate with a wider group of coworkers.

In many ways, Mastering the Unpredictable is letting me manage the case of getting practical insights, and developing action plans for ACM use - applicable to all the various roles I play.

If task lists, or action plans are helpful to you, you will find it easy to extract points into lists like:

1. What are the pains of taking a wait-and-see attitude?
2. Using ACM expects various degrees of "MacGyver" attitude.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Karl Walter Keirstead on September 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
I never understood the difference between "case management" and BPM until I read "Mastering the Unpredictable".

Civerex built a `case management' in 1992 that evolved to where it has a strong focus on guiding the processing of patients according to "best practice" protocols.

We took this direction this because our company received a grant from a hospital association to build healthcare software where the entire focus is on instances (i.e. patients), and where no two instances are handled in exactly the same way.

We had `cases' from the start and we called these Electronic Medical Records (EMRs).

We never had issues with unstructured work - our users could process patients using protocols, process patients not using protocols, or both. Basically, they have always done what they like, when they like, how they like.

I found by reading "Mastering the Unpredictable" that part of what we have been doing for the past 15 years is called ACM.

We realized something was different about our BPM system. We found it difficult to engage many consultants in conversations about our software - they would typically look at us as if we were from another planet.

So, we renamed our approach at one stage to BPMx. And then, about a month ago, to ACM/BPM.

I don't understand or agree with everything in the book but our ability to communicate with management consultants has improved dramatically.

I tell anyone who will listen that "Mastering the Unpredictable" is a must-read.

Karl Walter Keirstead, P. Eng.
Managing Director
Civerex Systems Inc.
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