BPM Training Going Forward - And The Nature of Work Post Covid

 

Lloyd Dugan:
How do you think that the training environment around us supports the development of those skills? You have your own practice, your own training as do I. What is it that you see as the state of the art, if you will, in training and BPM and what would you do if you could do anything to improve it?

Zbigniew Misiak:

 

This is an interesting question. So maybe let's continue with the story about doing presentations online. So I thought, "No, no, no way it will not work, you need to meet with people face-to-face to do something useful". Few years forward. Now I'm doing, I would say hundreds, if not thousands of hours, each year of trainings or presentations or things like this. Obviously, due to COVID all the trainings that I did onsite and I do quite a lot of them normally, moved to being online trainings. I see that it is not enough to simply take the same content and make people sit for eight hours watching the screens of their computers, and then automatically the knowledge will move to their heads. It doesn't work like this. So we need to figure out new ways of training to keep them engaged. What was very useful for me personally, were the insights that I got from my courses I run on Udemy platform.

So I learned that people want to have the knowledge on demand in convenient way, and it is much better to give them content, let's say bite sized. I'll give example of what we do at BOC to help our customers learn more about our tools. So normally we had the trainings people could then go to our trainings. Then after two or three days, they would know the ins and outs of the tool and they could start working with that, but then we figured it out that those people may not necessarily have time to attend those trainings. So, we started offering e-learning courses but then we thought it would be cool if they would have the library of let's say on demand resources. So we created something called Knowledge Hub, where they have various webinars recordings and stuff like this. But then we thought that, maybe they don't have half an hour to educate themselves to get deep, to get the background, a lecture about the reasons why BPM is important about stuff like this, but they have simple questions and they want to get answers very quickly.

So what we're doing currently is offering the library of very, very small videos and the following weeks people are using the article [update: this new feature is live – check the page with resources for the podcast], will'll see some very, very cool way to access it. So if somebody wants to learn how to do something, it is something that can be done after watching a few minutes video. So no long videos where people need scroll, to jump to the, let's say meat of the matter, moments that are interesting for them, but giving them exactly the knowledge that they need at the right time and the right place. So from the tool where they are working. So I would say that the big difference in training is that people are not, let's say as patient as some years ago. Some years ago, people could spend hours on the training and then they could go back to their work and do the stuff they were expected to do.

Now they are in a hurry. They want to have answers within minutes and if they get it, this is great because they can continue with doing what they want to do. I would say it will be something like difference between going to the cinema and watching video on YouTube or Netflix. So more on demand, more suited to what I need in the current moment and on my conditions. So this is an important thing, but also I would mention that for trainings and BPM trainings, MOOCs or massive online courses are also very helpful. By the way, there's a post for that on my website, where I write about various MOOCs that are helpful for BPM practitioners and I have to mention awesome MOOC:Fundamentals of BPM run by professors: Marcello La Rosa, Marlon Dumas, Jan Mendling and Hajo A. Reijers. Sadly, it is not available as a live MOOC but the recordings from the past editions and you can watch them for free on YouTube. So this is awesome source of great BPM knowledge.

Lloyd Dugan:
Certification is part of the mix because we don't really have broadly understood credential in that regard, we have local certification. I provide one out of BPM.com for example, and that's just to the people who take the courses I deliver. Bruce Silver, I think also offer something for those who go through his class. BPM Institute has something that's local for them. Sometimes these are certificates of completing the course. Sometimes they're certificates after some kind of examination, but collectively or even individually, or even collectively these don't amount to a whole amount of stuff, including the OMG certifications could probably list the number of people who have OMG certifications in BPM and BPMN 2.0, in the mid to several hundreds. That's worldwide, so that's not an impressively large number given things like the certifications that we have for a project management out of the Project Management Institute.

I'm pretty sure the number of PMP certified folks in the US alone numbers in the thousands. So it's a challenge to sort of coalesce around a set of core principles when every certification is a kind of cottage industry. So I have that complaint, but I don't know if there's anything really that can be done about it. I do think that one of the things we can do is ensure a rough approximation of a core set of material to topics to cover and as you and I discussed on a separate sidebar. This is something that I definitely want to push with our work at the OMG. You tell me, how do you see this certification situation from the trainer's perspective?

Zbigniew Misiak:
Well, for me, just a little bit similar to your perspective. So obviously we also run trainings. We also offer certificates. Also, people who finished my Udemy course get a certificate from Udemy. So, people have lots of possible certificates to have and when it comes to OMG Certified Expert in BPM [OCEB] certificate, obviously this is the most official certificate for BPMN that you can have, but it is not only for BPMN. You have lots of various stuff. So some of the participants of the trainings that I did for this said that, "This is actually some small MBA, because you start with some basics of business knowledge, of things like marketing, operations, then you move to a BPMN, then you have overview of various standards". So it is not something that people can very, very easily pass if they really don't have pretty deep knowledge in BPM.

So maybe this is why it is not so hugely popular, but maybe also that there is no such huge demand for having that official certification. If you have a PRINCE2 or if you have a PMI-issued certificate it can be prerequisite. So, you won’t get employed, you won’t get a project if you don't have the certificate, but for BPM practitioners, I don't see very commonly demands like this. Sometimes it happens in tenders, but this is not something that I see every day. What we have in Poland, interestingly, is that we have something called Polish certificate for BPMN and this is run by one of the Polish Academy of Sciences. So this is pretty interesting initiative and it is focused only on BPMN. So it is trying to avoid this problem of going too wide with curriculum. So this is some pretty new initiative, but it is interesting.

Lloyd Dugan:
So actually let me move to my rant there as a consequence of this. So, one of my complaints in training is this, that I can never sound as intellectual or as smart, as someone with a European accent. This dates back to my days of delivering training with Dr. Michael zur Muehlen out of the Stevens Institute in Hoboken, New Jersey and he's German. It generally seems if you have a European accent, somehow you have better standing than any accent that I can put on. So, why is that?

Zbigniew Misiak:
It's a good question. I would say, that in Poland, if you come from America, then you will be much better than anybody then can come from Poland. So I would not say that you're lost. Come to Poland and you will be our hero. But of course, if you like to have more serious answer, I would say that perhaps this is because European scientists like to have, or generally Europeans prefer to have some slightly different approach than Americans do. I see that my colleagues from the US like very practical approach, so Americans that I know generally want to get to the point, get something that will show the visible results next quarter. They don't want to dig too deeply in the theory. In Europe, especially in so-called the DACH countries. So Germany, Austria, Switzerland, you have people who are pretty happy to work with complex ideas, with theories, which are maybe not that easy to understand at the very beginning, but pretty often they happen to be very, very helpful because they structure stuff and they help understand things – maybe

Not in the moment when they are imagined, but sometimes few years later on. Again, the story from my life: few years ago, I was at the conference where the founder of my company, professor Dimitris Karagiannis, who is working at the University of Vienna, was talking about his vision of the future of BPM. He said that, "It will be something like the electricity that you simply plug into the socket, and you have the electricity, you don't need to worry about how does it work, why do you have electricity you simply plug it in and it works". I thought, "No way! Tools need to be installed. It is everything complex. Every company has some specific features. It's not possible to have a globally available BPM as a service”. Do I need to tell you why I'm not a thought leader?

He was obviously right, what we see today. So, BPM tools as a service, all the various services, that we can plug into your processes and make them run. This is exactly what he was talking about, about 15 years ago. I did not think it is possible, but this is how this European approach works. So you think of something that is at this time strange to believe in, but all of a sudden, 15 years later, it seems to be super hot. Also, the great work of professor Wil van der Aalst. What is happening with the process mining is to a large extent, thanks to his hard work on all those concepts. So this is maybe why those Europeans have, let's say better standing if you want to have some, let's say, deep foundations of the knowledge.

Lloyd Dugan:
I think is the first time someone answering my rant question is both a humbled me and informed me at the same time. When I asked a similar question at Michael Long ago. His issue was that in Europe, there is more attention paid to the informing on something. Whereas in the States, we pay more attention to the selling of something and there is a different skill sets that are involved. I wonder if in the States that trying to overly inform the skillset is a problem or overly sell it is a problem, got to find some happy medium in between. Now that we're coming out of COVID, what have you done, or what do you intend to do to celebrate that moment with your family?

Zbigniew Misiak:
I'm not ready to celebrate yet. We are yet to see what happens. How does it unfold. Probably I think that some people will rethink the way they live, rethink the way they work. I'm not sure how is it in the US but I hear from many people in Europe that they are pretty reluctant to go back to working at the offices because now they think that, "Okay, I need to meet with all those people and what if we have some new variants or if Delta, we have some maybe Theta, Eta or whatever variant, which will break through the vaccination, and we'll go again in the same situation". So maybe let's redirect it to BPM. So, what we may think as BPM practitioners is that people will have different expectations towards their lives, towards their work and maybe what we could do would be to try to figure out how BPM can help them.

How can we help them feel more secure at homes. By reducing things that may be dangerous by, for example, offering them services with the least possible amount of contact, which is not necessary, but also by giving them sense of belonging so that if they work from home, they still feel that they're part of the company, but they're still part of the team. This is not BPM as such, but this is part of much bigger trend of rethinking the way we live rethinking the way we work, rethinking the way, let's say, all the economy behaves.

Lloyd Dugan:
No, that was a very thoughtful answer my friend, thank you very much. I agree wholeheartedly down the line on that. I think we are at a place where we have to rethink both our priorities and what it means to actually engage in work. We'll just have to see how it shakes out that this is sort of precedent setting because it's an unprecedented event. Z thank you so much for joining us today. Most, certainly as the new issue of the BPM skills comes out we definitely would want to set up a podcast shortly thereafter. I give you a chance to go over it, explain it and promote it because we certainly endorse what you do on your BPM tip site.

Zbigniew Misiak:
Thanks a lot. Thanks for having me. It has been a great pleasure and for the listeners, if you'd like to have easy access to the topics, the resources of what we are mentioning during this podcast, you can go to BPMtips.com/resources.

1000 Characters left


Lloyd Dugan

Lloyd Dugan is a widely recognized thought leader in the development and use of leading modeling languages, methodologies, and tools, covering from the level of Enterprise Architecture (EA) and Business Architecture (BA) down through Business Process Management (BPM), Adaptive Case Management (ACM), and Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA). He specializes in the use of standard languages for describing business processes and services, particularly the Business Process Model & Notation (BPMN) from the Object Management Group (OMG). He developed and delivered BPMN training to staff from the Department of Defense (DoD) and many system integrators, presented on it at national and international conferences, and co-authored the seminal BPMN 2.0 Handbook (http://store.futstrat.com/servlet/Detail?no=85, chapter on “Making a BPMN 2.0 Model Executable) sponsored by the Workflow Management Coalition (WfMC, www.wfmc.org).