The sign of our time is the amazing speed with which changes in the business world happen. This requires from the enterprises of today, and even more of the future to become agile, e.g. capable of adjusting themselves to changes in the surrounding world. At the same time, current process thinking is mostly preoccupied with the issue of optimizing performance through standardization, specialization, and automation. A focus on optimization has resulted in the workflow view (in which a process is considered as a flow of operations) emerging as predominant in the field of Business Process Management (BPM). An optimized workflow constitutes a completely prescriptive definition of the process execution rules. Besides requiring a long time to develop, such execution rules can reduce the creativity of people participating in the process and thereby result in poor performance.
A focus on agility requires a paradigm shift in BPM that promotes process execution rules being less prescriptive to give people the opportunity to creatively use their knowledge and experience in volatile environments. Here, we need to move from workflow based process management to the constraint based process management. The constraint based process management should focus on more declarative definition of execution rules, i.e. a combination of guidelines and restrictions.
The needs for paradigm shift has already been discovered by practitioners. This shift can also be seen in appearing a strong practical movement called Adaptive Case Management (ACM) which “.. is information technology that exposes structured and unstructured business information (business data and content) and allows structured (business) and unstructured (social) organizations to execute work (routine and emergent processes) in a secure but transparent manner.” (http://www.xpdl.org/nugen/p/adaptive-case-management/public.htm)