Bruce Silver, BPMN luminary, has recently posted a piece on BPMN and Business Architecture where, he says, “In the past year the ‘architects’ seem to have discovered BPMN.” WIth his usual meticulous style he dissects the difference between a process and other notions such as capabilities and functions, terms that architects like to throw around in their paperwork.
He clearly distinguishes process as the “how,” which is what we, at SenseAgility, have been saying as well. Process diagrams, and BPMN diagrams in particular, are the proof behind a particular type of capability, namely the Business Capability. In our work we’ve found that there are specific types of acceptable proofs behind different types of capabilities.
Here’s a statement Bruce makes about typing or perhaps it is even about granularity by implication, “If you’re sorting things into boxes, it doesn’t matter so much if some boxes hold square pegs and others round holes. But when you want to assemble those boxes into a coherent unit, it would be easier if the pegs and holes all had the same shape.” To us this principle is exactly the same one we employ when naming capabilities. As mentioned above, capabilities are different types. You can tell they are different types by looking at the proof behind the capability. That is, what makes the capability a capability in the first place? Business Capabilities have processes behind them, maybe more than one, but at least one.
So what I’m saying here is that if you want to give a name to a capability you need to have something in mind besides appropriate wording. Just getting people to agree on words doesn’t cut it. Why? Because ultimately you need to be talking about something of value. If capabilities can’t be linked to something of value then you might be imagining capabilities in a vacuum.
Anyway, subscribe to Bruce’s excellent blog when you get a chance.