Enabling Operational Excellence
Enabling Operational Excellence
Enabling Operational Excellence
Enabling Operational Excellence

TURNING OPERATIONAL KNOWLEDGE & COMPLIANCE INTO A COMPETITIVE EDGE

We systemize tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge

Blog Enabling Operational Excellence

MetaProcess vs. Universal Process Pattern (UPP)

Brian Leapman, U.K. logistics and supply chain expert, commented[1]: Meta is essentially when you cannot abstract further or divide further. It should be the atomic particle level of abstraction. A metaprocess – the Universal Process Pattern (UPP) – has four potential meta value outputs (whether or not they are modeled):  
    • Accept
    • Reject
    • Counterproposal
    • Ignore
For each of these four meta values, there can be a set/range of values where the outcomes are valid for a specific type of instance. My reply: UPP can be quite useful I think. However, we started from different semantics. You said: “Meta is essentially when you cannot abstract further or divide further. It should be the atomic particle level of abstraction.” I’m using Merriam-Webster Unabridged definition [meta- 3b]:

of a higher logical type — in nouns formed from names of disciplines and designating new but related disciplines such as can deal critically with the nature, structure, or behavior of the original ones *metalanguage* *metatheory* *metasystem*

So by metaprocess I mean process that transforms other processes. Both metaprocess and ‘regular’ processes could be UPP-compliant. I believe the notions are orthogonal. P.S. I have no idea what a meta-value might be. http://www.brsolutions.com/


[1] This series of point/counterpoint replies is a follow-up to my post “Meta Here. Meta There. Meta Everywhere?” (March 31, 2014), which generated a surprising amount of great discussion. (Thanks all!) Refer to: http://www.brsolutions.com/2014/03/31/meta-here-meta-there-meta-everywhere/

Continue Reading

MetaProcess vs. Generalization of Processes

John Bertolet, Global Business Process Management director at Schneider Electric, commented[1]: I have seen the term metaprocess used as the generic name for a high-level process. This usually comes up in the context of trying to name the levels of a process architecture – for example:

1) Highest-level, end-to-end process or “value chain” or assembly of processes 2) Process 3) Sub-process 4) Activity 5) Task

People usually mean the first level above as a metaprocess. But I have not seen any universally accepted standard for this naming convention; so it is whatever you define it to be. My reply: My definition of metaprocess is process that transforms other processes. Your hierarchy represents the decomposing of processes. A process being (passively) decomposed is certainly not the same thing as a process (actively) transforming another process. Based on that difference, no, I would not say a value chain is a metaprocess. Of course, there is (must be) a process for decomposing other processes. But that specific functionality is highly specialized; not all processes do it. In fact most don’t. So decompose is not an appropriate verb for a definition of metaprocess. It’s not intrinsic to what all processes do. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A Systems Architect commented: Is there such a thing as a metaprocess? Yes. One way to look at the answer is processes for the creation and management of processes. But another way is a generalized process … like a design-level process pattern for a certain class of operable processes … which must go through a process design and implementation for specific situation before it is an operable process. My reply: Design-level process patterns can be highly useful. However, I don’t think they qualify under the useful dictionary definition of meta-. Let’s test the ‘rule for meta’. Inserting a verb phrase I get “design-level process pattern that can be customized to a more specific process”. There are at least two problems with that:
  • The nouns must be the same on either side of the verb phrase. But a “pattern” is not the same as a “process.”
  • A process is fundamentally one that transforms things. But “can be customized to” has no sense of transforming something else.
So no, I don’t think a design-level process pattern should be viewed as a metaprocess in the strict sense of the term. (Thought-provoking though!) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Filipe Pinto, business process architect, commented: An example of a metaprocess is the epistemic process. My reply: I assume you mean the process through which knowledge is acquired. That’s an interesting one. For the sake of argument I’ll say that doesn’t fit the definition of metaprocess I’m using: process that transforms other processes. Instead, I would argue it’s a case of extreme generalization. Rather than being a process that supports the learning of only one kind of thing, it’s a process that supports the learning of many (all?) kinds of things. Meta- and generalization are not the same. But of course, it all depends on what definition you use – which is the whole point of this discussion. http://www.brsolutions.com/


[1] This series of point/counterpoint replies is a follow-up to my post “Meta Here. Meta There. Meta Everywhere?” (March 31, 2014), which generated a surprising amount of great discussion. (Thanks all!) Refer to: http://www.brsolutions.com/2014/03/31/meta-here-meta-there-meta-everywhere/ The definition I’m using for meta- is from Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary [3b]:

3b: of a higher logical type – in nouns formed from names of disciplines and designating new but related disciplines such as can deal critically with the nature, structure, or behavior of the original ones *metalanguage* *metatheory* *metasystem*

 

Continue Reading 2 Comments

MetaProcess vs. Something More than a Process

Amit Mitra, Senior Manager at TCS America, commented[1]: Is there such a thing as a metaprocess? Yes, there is! I am teaching the metaprocess in a master’s course … as a part of an overall model of knowledge that integrates reasoning, measurement, business rules, and process. Indeed, you can infer the business functionality required of the ideal BPM tool from the properties and parameters of the metaprocess (No current tools support them all, but they do support the most obvious properties). The metaprocess also accounts for progressively unstructured processes, and processes that reason about themselves, to infer how they could adapt to different situations. My reply: Interesting indeed. However, what is your definition of process? I think the key part of what a process is (and isn’t) is that it transforms something (turns raw material into finished goods, inputs into outputs). Business rules never transform anything – that’s a key differentiator from business processes. Reasoning and measurement ‘transform’ something only in a trivial sense. My point is that the thing you’ve created a meta- for isn’t really a process. It’s more comprehensive. It’s more like core business know-how or core business capability. The industry desperately needs a better name for the kind of thing you’re creating … because it’s central to moving toward a knowledge economy (and a more rational, sustainable way of doing business). ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Eric Ducos, CTO of EmeriCon, commented: Is there such a thing as a metaprocess? I would definitely think so. A methodology for identifying, analyzing and building a BPM solution is a metaprocess (i.e. a process to build a process). My reply: I agree except for the word methodology. A methodology is more than a process. It includes rules and guidelines, for example. Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary (MWUD) defines methodology as (1a):

a body of methods, procedures, working concepts, rules, and postulates employed by a science, art, or discipline.

But here’s a thought: There could be such a thing as a meta-methodology … a methodology indicating how to create (other) methodologies. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ John Morris, Director, Solutions Sales at Bosch Software Innovations, commented: In terms of driving work on metaprocesses, I suspect that tort law, regulation and compliance issues might eventually prove to be motivators, more than competition. One might think that having good software would be guaranteed by competition, especially as the information content of most products and services is increasing. The governance challenge, however, is that the semantic content of software is buried by “what you see” – i.e., the surface of the software. All too often that’s where discussion stops. My reply: I couldn’t agree more. That gets you into rules and meta-rules – i.e., into something more than processes. http://www.brsolutions.com/


 [1] This series of point/counterpoint replies is a follow-up to my post “Meta Here. Meta There. Meta Everywhere?” (March 31, 2014), which generated a surprising amount of great discussion. (Thanks all!) Refer to: http://www.brsolutions.com/2014/03/31/meta-here-meta-there-meta-everywhere/ The definition I’m using for meta- is from Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary [3b]:

3b: of a higher logical type – in nouns formed from names of disciplines and designating new but related disciplines such as can deal critically with the nature, structure, or behavior of the original ones *metalanguage* *metatheory* *metasystem*

 

Continue Reading

MetaProcess vs. Enabling Process

A Senior Business Analyst commented[1]: Viewing an organization in terms of the classic pyramid of strategic, tactical and operational levels, it seems to me that each level performs processes that enable other processes at the next level down. You might call these enabling processes, especially those at the strategic level. When executives perform an enabling process in effect they transform other processes lower in the pyramid. I think the enabling processes can therefore be called metaprocesses. My reply: Processes that enable other processes, that build on what they have produced, are of course extremely important. That’s how stuff gets done and value added. But that’s not the same as a metaprocess. An enabling process doesn’t directly ‘operate on’ (transform) another process, nor is a transformed process its output. So I’d have to say an enabling process is not a metaprocess. I also don’t think that in performing an enabling process at the strategic level, executives directly transform processes at the tactical or operational level. (If only they were that hands-on!) Instead, they establish business policies, goals, and objectives that then can be used by other people to transform ‘lower-level’ processes appropriately (and directly). In other words, their outputs are strategy or strategic direction. Those are simply not processes per se … even if probably more important! http://www.brsolutions.com/


[1] This series of point/counterpoint replies is a follow-up to my post “Meta Here. Meta There. Meta Everywhere?” (March 31, 2014), which generated a surprising amount of great discussion. (Thanks all!) Refer to: http://www.brsolutions.com/2014/03/31/meta-here-meta-there-meta-everywhere/ The definition I’m using for meta- is from Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary [3b]:

3b: of a higher logical type – in nouns formed from names of disciplines and designating new but related disciplines such as can deal critically with the nature, structure, or behavior of the original ones *metalanguage* *metatheory* *metasystem*

Continue Reading

Metadata vs. Meta-AnythingElse

Kevin Smith, www.PragmaticEA.com, commented[1]: I am not sure why you have asked about what is meta. You know the word ‘meta’ means “information about” and so to quizzically ask what other meta things exist rather than just metadata is a bit odd. The answer (which I am sure you already know) is, of course, that you can apply the word ‘meta’ to anything you like so long as there is some benefit/reason for doing so. Perhaps you are asking so people begin to talk generally about it? My reply: Many people think they know what meta means, but I find that’s not the case. The relevant definitions for meta- from Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary(MWUD) are:

3a: beyond : transcending *metaphysics* … I would avoid this definition because it takes you to neverneverland.

3b: of a higher logical type – in nouns formed from names of disciplines and designating new but related disciplines such as can deal critically with the nature, structure, or behavior of the original ones *metalanguage* *metatheory* *metasystem* … I believe this is the useful definition.

There’s much more to meta- than simply “information about”. That usage probably arises from metadata, but meta- does not generalize to other nouns besides “data” in the sense of “information about”. There are at least two things wrong with that line of thinking:

1. It violates the basic definition (3b) of meta-. Any use of meta- must be based on the same noun. So “information about data” is disallowed in defining metadata. Instead you must say “data about data”. Change the noun and all bets are off. (The assumption here of course is you don’t mean “data” and “information” as synonyms. I certainly wouldn’t go there.)

2. It violates my additional rule for defining meta- as follows: You must always use a verb, not just a preposition. Prepositions hide meaning. So instead of “about” I would say “describes”.  That way metadata becomes “data that describes other data”. The chosen verb must be intrinsic to the meaning or purpose of the thing – in this case, data. Data always describes – no exceptions, no reasonable dissent. (It should also be an active verb.)

Introducing a verb to the core meaning of a meta- forces you to put a semantic stake in the ground. So use of meta- is not at all limited to just “information about”. The MWUD definition does not require that, or even suggest it. http://www.brsolutions.com/
[1] This series of point/counterpoint replies is a follow-up to my post “Meta Here. Meta There. Meta Everywhere?” (March 31, 2014), which generated a surprising amount of great discussion. (Thanks all!) Refer to: http://www.brsolutions.com/2014/03/31/meta-here-meta-there-meta-everywhere/  

Continue Reading 11 Comments