Smart process drives more intelligent decision making no doubt. The big problem I see with poor process is that it leads to lazy and unintelligent decision making. If you provide the path for someone to succeed there is a much better chance they will.
When a process is that smart, it probably isn't even visible by people; they simply take it for granted...
Only when processes are broken, people (mostly customers actually) notice and suppliers come up with the "smartest" workarounds... No, I think smart processes don't make people smarter. Failure make people smarter...
Since process is about coordination of individuals, they do become smarter, as in "emotional smarts". They become more aware of the impact their actions have on other co-workers and vice-versa. And, ultimately, they will upgrade their acts so as to maximize the returns of their cooperation.
The opposite stands as well: a poor process will confuse, frustrate and cause anxiety to people and those are conditions for cognitive impairment (formerly known as "stupidity").
Per the quote, if the "WHY" part is accounted for smart processes can help smart people be smarter, but stupid, ignorant people not so much. Some people are invested in their jobs and want to improve things, others are just punching the clock and, amazingly enough, are usually not held to account.
Solve the people part first, then the technology can do what it's supposed to do.
Knowledge workers aren't going to become smarter via a smarter process. The benefit of a smarter process is to augment decision making for less skilled workers. A smart process should enable businesses to hire less skilled workers to complete tasks that would traditionally require a knowlede worker to successfuly complete a task.
I worked on a job where we had augmented our process for bringing in paper correspondence using less skilled workers. The scanning and OCR steps would fail about 5% of the time and it required people to hand key in the information. These workers were delivered an image and a single field. That single field was all they had to fill in from the document image. The same document image could have gone to multiple people but no one knew that. That process was extremely efficient and we were able to hire people that had the qualification of pretty much "has hands".
Also, Walter Bril said something very powerful that I say all the time. Failure is what makes people smarter.
It is all about WHY (thanks Patrick). I remember that at one organisation, I configured processes that people who were assigned to particular activities could see only their activities and couldn’t see the whole process. One of those people requested me to allow seeing the whole process for all people involved (even partially) in this process. Naturally, people would like to see that their own work as an integral part of some bigger, organisation achievement.
Also, people who were assigned to a particular activity started to talk to people who were assigned to “previous” activities and to people who were assigned to “next” activities. To improve “handovers” within processes. Smart.
I think that it can works as a dialectic process. I believe that people can design smart processes based on getting different ways (even unintelligent ways) of doing the business operations, and the people who are operating can learn better ways of doing their own things. So, seeing this as a global process of continuous improvement, involving many people, and each one contributing with his part, everybody have to gain. Anyway, It doesn't mean that each one become more smart, in the sense that it can increase his own intelligence quotient.
Upon re-re-reading the question, it occurs to my inclusive personality, that people are part of process (or the other way round). The question suggests a segregation between people and process, as if process has an existential dilemma. So if I'm allowed to have my way, if the process is smart then, everything else (people, technology, rules) is/are inherently smart.
Deep question! And how to tease apart cause and effect...
So, can better processes produce better brains? (Assume "smarter" == "better brains")
Let's look at the question from both a micro and a macro perspective.
1. MICRO PERSPECTIVE -- All the hype in the last five years about "the plastic brain" suggests that environment can influence the brain. Interestingly a particular and later discredited branch of Soviet science proposed sort of the same thing (for entire species) in support of New Soviet Man (i.e. highlighted in the work of the egregious Trofim Lysenko). Oddly we find now (cf. epigenetics) that there may have been some value in the research (although at the time in the Soviet Union, the effect was entirely negative.) Granted any epigenetic effects on process-using humans are likely to be only apparent in the very long term; shorter term "plastic brain" effects might be possible. Aside however from the question of effect one should note that any discussion of smartness and human work can become very sensitive, very quickly.
2. MACRO PERSPECTIVE -- Today's question was originally formulated in the reverse, i.e. do "smart people make smart processes". There's a whole world of debate concerning the interaction of people and technology. And likely there is causality in both directions between technology (i.e. processes) and humans. And of course as soon as we have "both directions", we have feedback loops and systems theory and all kinds of amazing possible behaviours and system states. And then all the issues which have challenged management from the beginning are in play.
What are the policy implications? Our simple question today (and last time) concerns causality between inherent human capabilities and process technology. If there is such causality, the implications are significant. Whoever can master this feedback loop will achieve amazing things. The policy implication is "double down on business process and figure it out". Beware though, with such high stakes, there are temptations and risks too.
I say no impact - people are either smart or they are not.
I am not sure there are "smart processes" - maybe there are just processes designed by people and other processes designed by smart people.
Processes can make people more aware of what they have done, are doing, could be doing / should be doing.
Processes make people more aware of what others have done, are doing and are likely to be doing.
"Best Practices" can inform people what the organization has found to give better outcomes. However, does not follow that those who rigidly follow a best practice are smart.
Processes w/predictive analytics can make it easier for a user to pick an option at a decision box along a process template instance.
I like Michel's comment the best. While we all agree "intelligent process" are an enhanced version of "regular processes", there are different degrees of intelligence. I like to think of "intelligent processes" as those that try to minimize the wrong doings and maximize the chance of the best outcome. I do not necessarily agree that intelligent processes make people more intelligent, but with more contextual awareness and appropriate guardrails, we are helping and improving the chances of people making the right thing.