Process Model or Process Instance … Which Do You Mean in ‘Metaprocess’?
Razvan Radulian, business transformation consultant, commented:
Is there such a thing as a metaprocess? When we say ‘process(es)’ there actually two things that match the term: (1) process models and (2) process instances. Going back to your definition for metaprocess – process that transforms other processes – which one(s) are you talking about?
My reply: Good points. To answer I need to ask what an instance of a process is. You’re probably referring to a performance or execution of a process.
Clearly, “transforming” a (‘live’) performance is an interesting question. There are at least two ways of doing that. The first is a process that coordinates another process in real-time. Think of a conductor’s process to direct a symphony, or a director’s process in the making of a movie.
Another way is by real-time evaluation of business rules. That’s how you get truly dynamic, traceable, repeatable ‘performances’.
But I was actually talking about process models, not instances (performances). If you change the model of a process, the effect is to change every performance (execution) of that process model thereafter. That’s the how I think most people in business process improvement would think about the matter.
But your points are well-taken. First, there are probably two kinds of meta- with respect to processes:
- If instances, that’s probably easier to grasp (and, most likely, already taken care of … by some process model).
- If models, that gets quite more interesting. So, let’s see! Would that a process instance be (of a metaprocess-model) that changes another process model?
Second, you can mix the two – e.g., talk about a meta-process-performance transforming other process models. In that case, however, you’re not really talking meta-. The noun subjects are not the same (i.e., performance vs. model). At that point I think you’re just talking about doing actual process improvement work.
- Meta-process-performance coordinates other process performances.
- Meta-process-model transforms other process models.
 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*
Tags: meta, meta-process-model, meta-process-performance, metaprocesses, process instances, process model vs process execution, process models vs process instances
Ronald G. Ross
Ron Ross, Principal and Co-Founder of Business Rules Solutions, LLC, is internationally acknowledged as the “father of business rules.” Recognizing early on the importance of independently managed business rules for business operations and architecture, he has pioneered innovative techniques and standards since the mid-1980s. He wrote the industry’s first book on business rules in 1994.