Almost universally, innovation is regarded as a positive force. How many businesses – particularly in the technology space – now have a Chief Innovation Officer, whose job it is to originate new ideas and to recognise and foster innovative ideas generated by others, as an essential part of their C-suite?

[easy-tweet tweet=”Introducing innovation will inevitably result in change and quite possibly conflict” hashtags=”Cloud”]

Anarchy, on the other hand, is generally associated with destruction, and conjures up images of insurrection, disorder, chaos, and mayhem.

So what do I mean by “the anarchy of innovation”?

The reality is that innovation means change.  Introducing innovation – even if it’s little “i” innovation in the form of new ideas, changes, fixes – particularly if on the fly – will inevitably result in change and quite possibly conflict. And there’s no question big “I” innovation in the form of a major business transformation will drive massive change.

Innovation can break repeatability and potentially result in the delivery of a different experience for users – often not regarded as a good thing since users tend to like, expect, and even value a consistent experience.

While some would suggest that innovation is in direct conflict with and can be crushed by over-controlled, process-driven cultures, business process improvement doesn’t have to be like that. In fact, with the capabilities that modern cloud-based BPM platforms bring to the table, it really shouldn’t be.

Imagine for a moment a process-driven culture. Did you picture grey people with a grey culture, constrained by pages and pages of roles and procedures? That is a mindset born of outdated, legacy approaches to BPM that results in a perception of process as a separate documentation and audit activity, rather than one that sees process as a fundamental component of doing business.

Instead, process knowledge needs to keep up with an organisation’s own creativity. That means not only keeping up with how we truly do things, but actually sharing the ownership of know-how with the right people in the business so that they are aware of this knowledge asset, and can challenge it, debate it, revise it, and, most importantly, use it.

Moving from a legacy on-site BPM system (or even Word document based method) to a cloud-based BPM platform provides a unique opportunity to make processes dynamic, easily accessible, and easy to integrate into an employee’s day to day activities. Innovative cloud-based BPM solutions also make it easier for teams to truly collaborate around process improvement and to innovate.

Let me provide a case in point from a remote part of Australia. From 2010-2013, the City of Karratha was transformed from a quiet backwater into a booming metro area as families flocked to the area to make the most of its mining resources. That had a definite upside, as Karratha experienced significant investment in both private and public infrastructure projects. But the speed of that growth posed some serious challenges to Karratha’s city council.

Innovative cloud-based BPM solutions make it easier for teams to truly collaborate around process improvement and to innovate

Anxious to serve its expanding population, the city council added new staff, many of whom had never worked in the public sector and, as a result, were unfamiliar with public sector responsibilities. The council itself was also on a steep learning curve, adding new services with which even experienced staffers were unfamiliar.

Recognising that many existing procedures were incorrect, out of date, inefficient, or worse, non-compliant for local government operations, Karratha employed Promapp cloud-based software to consolidate processes, improve procedures and documentation across the organisation, and make sure staff were following approved methods.The software also addressed gaps in education and training.

While disrupting previously engrained processes and procedures, the process improvement initiative enabled staff across the entire organisation to tap into up-to-date, centralised process management information, making it significantly easier for city departments to work together collaboratively, sharing information and understanding the various workflow impacts on the entire organisation.

Even processes that seemed unnecessarily detailed were dubbed “a really useful exercise.” For example, if a key person was absent from work, the documented processes made it relatively easy for someone to step into their shoes and continue moving everything forward. Putting links, forms, screenshots, and guidelines into the processes gave users everything they needed to complete the task at hand.

Moreover, by creating and documenting processes within the BPM software, the quality of the processes themselves improved. The software’s flexibility and cloud-based interface allowed users to add relevant information and important links to websites. It also facilitated co-design of processes, allowing for input from individuals within the organisation. The result is processes that aren’t solely aimed at compliance, but also suit the way in which people want to work. This not only creates buy-in from the users, but improves everyone’s understanding of how things work and, more importantly, why. In short, Karratha’s city council introduced innovative changes without anarchy.

Clearly, innovation can cause anarchy, but only if it isn’t properly managed. By establishing a platform for people to engage with process and make the case for change, innovation can be fostered. A voice needs to be given to those working within the process, allowing them to share their insights and ingenuity. That platform should facilitate the coordination and integration of changes and improvements. Cloud-based BPM software is the ideal platform for implementing these kinds of innovative process changes. Ultimately, it is all about harnessing innovation, rather than stamping it out.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Moving from a legacy on-site BPM system to a cloud-based platform lets businesses make processes dynamic”]

Can it be done? Absolutely. First, though, you need to change the way the organisation looks at processes. Only then can you truly change the way you look at innovation and fully realise the positive benefits that innovation can deliver.