Appian World 2013 Keynote Presentation — Design for Disruption: Take an Outside-In Approach to BPM

Welcome to Day 3 of Appian World 2013! After a fabulous customer celebration party last night with plenty of food, fun, and Appian-tinis, attendees are back at the Ronald Reagan Building this morning for a full day of more customer case studies, analyst presentations, and panel discussions. Clay Richardson, Principal Analyst at Forrester and an Appian World favorite, kicked things off with “Design for Disruption: Take an Outside-In Approach to BPM.”


 Social, mobile, cloud, big data. How do you respond to these technology disruptors? Richardson states that teams need to shift from “systems thinking” paradigms that emphasize process modeling to “design thinking” paradigms that emphasize creativity and customer experience.

Mobile is fueling demand for reinventing processes. According to one Forrester report, there will be $7.6B in spend on mobile process reinvention services by 2015 (eclipsing spend on mobile app development!) This trend presents new questions. The back office asks, how can we optimize operations? What best practices should we adopt? Meanwhile, the front office asks, what will our future customer look like? How do I find meaning in the work I do?

In 2012, Forrester surveyed business process professionals to ask about improvement when applying BPM for customer experience metrics. Over half of the respondents did not measure customer experience metrics at all, but around 10% saw very strong improvement. Focusing on the customer experience is vital – but where do you start? Design thinking is the key to success.

Design thinking is a collection of practices that helps teams better identify with customer experiences, and shift from logical problem solving to creative experimentation. – Forrester

Richardson explained the difference between systems and design thinking practices with a left-brain/right-brain analogy. Systems thinking practices are holistic, logical, and deductive. In contrast, design thinking practices are specific and abductive, based on context and empathy. As Richardson says, we all have empathy, right? Empathy drives design and connects to emotion.

By the way, what does “abductive” mean? Richardson is glad you asked.

  • Deductive: Using past knowledge and events to solve current problems
  • Inductive: Combining past events and current observations to drive inferences
  • Abductive: Imagining and visualizing a future that does not yet exist

Abductive reasoning is about the creative leap. In order to get there, it’s important to create a safe environment for design thinking. Richardson offered the following safety guidelines:

  • Use “what if” scenarios to drive ideation
  • Focus on generating large pool of ideas
  • Expect majority of ideas to fail
  • Follow through on experimentation

Design thinking underpins systems of engagement, which touch people. BPM for engagement focuses on delivering an adaptive user experience, and targets unstructured or semi-structured processes. It’s ideal for a faster pace of change, and supports new work patterns, such as mobile and social.

Design thinking is a new way of thinking — is your team ready for it?

Alena Callaghan

Web Marketing Manager