Recently, I published Full-Stack Processes Part 1 and Part 2 on The TIBCO Blog, which is my response to a thoughtful piece, “The Full-Stack Employee” by Chris Messina. (You can read Part 1 or the original article for a description of a Full-Stack Employee [FSE], and Part 2 for details on Full-Stack Process Creators.)
My conclusions thus far:
- FSEs are often the missing element in failed or struggling process initiatives
- The FSE will become essential to enterprises as they are transforming into a digital business
- FSEs will become the primary process designer for the digital business
- FSEs will use process design methodologies that support innovation through experimentation
There is still an important vector to be explored the FSE as a process consumer.
The Full-Stack Process Consumer
No one is ever solely a process creator. By being a part of any organization—no matter if you are an employee, contractor, or freelancer—you inherently become a process consumer. The situation is no different for the FSE. FSEs will, however, have a few extra requirements around process flexibility, scope, innovation, and engagement.
Let the expert be the expert
All FSEs are knowledge workers, but not all knowledge workers are FSEs. I think of the FSE as a knowledge worker on some serious performance enhancement drugs (all legal HGHs of course). The number one thing to keep in mind about FSEs is that you are not dealing with the fatally uncurious. Your digitalized processes should keep your FSEs on the right side of the law and regulations, but without constraining them.
The FSE’s expertise, ability to deal with situations on-the-fly, and desire to innovate are exactly why you wanted them in the first place. Your processes must support them and let them be the expert that they are. If you limit them too much, you will create an environment unsuited for FSEs. You want them to stick around to innovate your processes!
I am making the assumption that if you are still reading this blog you might need TL;DR defined. TL;DR is internet slang for “too long didn’t read”. Commonly used when an article or message exceeds someone’s attention span. An ever-shortening attention span is not a unique FSE problem by any means, it seems to be a global epidemic.
One of my favorite points in Messina’s original article is, “Attention is the currency of this age.” Knowledge workers and FSEs are some of your most expensive resources. Their attention and focus should be treated like a precious commodity, and should always be on something that produces better business outcomes, not tactical tasks or information searching.
To be consumable, your processes (manual, automated, or process-based apps) will need to be streamlined, to the point, intuitive, and easily discoverable. I think this will cause two changes in the process world. It will become more common to implement your processes as a series of use-case specific process-based apps, rather than a single, giant, megadeath process. Drive the need for a How To Guide For the Digital Enterprise.
In this age of distraction, employee engagement will be critical to the success of the digital business. Engaged employees are more loyal, productive, and collaborative. An engagement strategy allows organizations to influence employee actions and long-term behaviors towards their overall business goals and culture.
Now this is where it will get a little tricky. Different types and groups of employees across different industries will be motivated in different ways. It will be important to find out what your particular FSEs respond to. You will need to figure out how to engage, retain, focus, and motivate them.
Luckily, there are some smart people out there that have applied science-based, data-driven gaming techniques to a business context. Gamification will be key to engaging and retaining your FSEs. This achievement, status, and rewards cycle will eventually find its way into all of a digital business’ human-centric processes.
Personalization and Omni-Channel
There has been a lot of information published on omni-channel customer engagement and personalization becoming an expectation rather than an exception. I have always thought of a company’s workforce as being the customer for its internal processes and don’t see why those expectations should be any different. The frontiers of our digital and physical lives are blurring, as are the concepts of working hours and off hours.
FSEs are a very mobile, fast-paced, and technically savvy group. They also tend to work on a flexible schedule and remotely. Your processes are going to have to keep up and be consumable across all of their channels all of the time. This is going to be quite the change from how traditional enterprise processes are currently consumed.
I have spent quite a bit of time talking about FSEs and what they will do for the digital business. Don’t worry, this isn’t a full-scale takeover of the workforce, but they will be far more prevalent and important to the digital business and its processes. Even Messina originally observed, “It’s too much to suggest that the future of work will be led by Full-Stack Employees, but there is a significant trend in this direction, at the very least driven by the recent emphasis on entrepreneurship globally coupled with Millennial work trends.”
TIBCO is going to be at the Gartner Business Process Management Summit the 9th – 11th of September. If you aren’t registered yet, use TIBCO’s code (BPMSP17) for $300 off. If you would like to discuss this with me in person, come to booth 204 in the Solutions Showcase; my session Confessions of a Process-oholic: A True Story; or our chocolate and champagne hospitality suite.