There are typically two philosophies when it comes to building walking paths on college campuses.
The first philosophy consisted of a down, expert-managed approach: looking at the blueprints for a quad and determining the shortest or most beautiful paths across it, while the second philosophy is more laissez-faire: when Michigan State, for example, erects a new building, they do not pave paths between it and its surroundings.
The landscapers there allow students, staff, and faculty to walk wherever they want, and then, after a “desire path” forms, they pave over the path with asphalt to make it the authoritative way to go.
A walking path in green space and a process in a company are not so different from one another. Each proposes the way someone should go, defines the appropriate boundaries, makes sure that everyone is going the same way, and, when necessary, adapts to change.
Walking paths and processes can both be instructive, if done correctly: “go this way, not that way,” but they can invite dissent, which is detrimental to both processes and landscapes alike.
Process owners need to think both like landscape architects and the pedestrians who walk their paths. Often, a process predates the process owner; a strange brew of technical infrastructure, old or outdated institutional guidelines, even water-cooler gossip that identifies to whom certain requests should be routed if you really want them to go through.
So when the process owner comes into his or her own, he or she looks at processes as they stand formally, and also at the “desire paths” that form offshoots, or shortcuts.
Sometimes, the responsibility of the process owner is to cut off the desire paths: to put obstacles in the way and add signage saying to keep off. Sometimes the responsibility of the process owner is to take a cue from the lines that have formed, and to pave over them so that others can responsibly follow in their footsteps.
But without a centralized tool for enterprise automation, their changes and updates can be siloed. The result? Too many “solutions” across the company, when one enterprise automation platform could be rolled out globally. Too many solutions start to create traffic jams where they should be creating freeways.
Process owners need to be able to react quickly and smartly to make sure that they fence off short-cuts that cause harm and pave new paths that make it easier to follow the process. The best way to do this is with a flexible platform that can lay on top of already existing technology and massage outdated practices into efficient, easy-to-manage, quick-turnaround wins.
What’s needed is a workflow automation solution that empowers anyone and everyone across the business to streamline, standardize, and improve their processes. It’s a tool that blends the metaphorical role of the landscaper and the flaneur: process owners, IT, and those who travel through the processes are each given new ways to improve their company.
While the solution is owned centrally, the roll-out of an enterprise automation platform can be democratically dispersed amongst multiple departments so that each process owner sees their process and the technology behind it as part of a larger, company-wide story.
In this blog series, expect to learn how the proper solution (like TAP Workflow Automation) can fulfill that role, by being used to bring together people, processes, and technology in a way that democratizes and disperses responsibility without losing the authority, security, or reliability of a top-notch rollout.
Expect more landscaping metaphors. And get ready to learn how, by rolling out an enterprise automation platform across the business, IT teams can centralize their tech stack while also empowering other departments, freeing up their own time, budget, and saving their sanity.