Lean BPM Manifesto

Lean BPM Manifesto

Business Process Management (BPM) is about Process Improvement. From this Wikpedia article

Business process management (BPM) is a field in operations management that focuses on improving corporate performance by managing and optimizing a company’s business processes. It can therefore be described as a “process optimization process.”

The Lean BPM approach is all about returning BPM to its roots as a methodology that facilitates process improvement thus creating massive value for businesses. The Lean BPM Manifesto is a public statement of the set of principles underlying the Lean BPM approach. This article on applying lean principles to BPM gives some background to this manifesto.

Lean BPM Principles

  • Iterative
  • Knowledge-worker Oriented
  • Progressive
  • Zero-code or Code Later
  • Guidance and Support over Detailed Control
  • Flexible Collaboration as part of the Process
  • Journey as Important as the Destination
  • Forgiveness over Permission
  • Internal as well as External
  • Embrace Variation
  • Democratic


Rapid iteration should be favored over long cycle times. Rapid iteration encourages experimentation and learning. This in turn is key to process improvement. Rapid iteration also encourages quick convergence to ‘Process-Problem fit’.

Knowledge-Worker Oriented

As the ones actually running the business, Knowledge workers are best placed to create, refine and (optionally) formalize processes. I.T should play an (optional) supporting role rather being central to the process.


Expensive up-front process design and modeling is a significant barrier to getting started. This is not only because of the time required, but also due to the cognitive overhead (for the knowledge worker) of thinking in terms of formal processes. Instead knowledge workers should be able to start with lightweight process precursors that require no setup time and are completely natural to them. They can (optionally) progress from lightweight process precursors to formal processes once the process has been iterated upon and validated.

Zero-Code or Code-Later

Requiring coding as part of creating a business process is a huge barrier to rapid iteration. Accordingly, Lean Processes should be structured as Zero-Code. If coding is required then it should be of a non-disruptive Code-Later variety.

Guidance and Support over Detailed Control

Guidance and Support should be emphasized over control. A Guidance and Support based approach is naturally more adaptive to varying conditions and cases.

As a corollary to this, techniques like goal management and in-flight course adjustment should be emphasized over ever-more complicated workflows with branching conditions that try to anticipate all possible scenarios.

Flexible Collaboration as part of the Process

Flexible communication and collaboration is key to making the Lean Process approach successful. Flexible collaboration enables processes to be highly adaptive to changing conditions. Accordingly collaboration and communication must be embedded in the process and not be apart from it.

Journey as important as the destination

With goal-oriented, adaptive processes the journey is as important as the destination. A lot of the process learning takes place during the journey. Additionally, as the processes are more dynamic in nature it is important that anyone that is brought into the process understands how the process got to where its at. A key capability here is to be able to see the ‘diff’ (i.e. what’s changed) in the process state at each step.

Forgiveness over Permission

Forgiveness is emphasized over permission. Overly permissioned approaches require a great deal of prescriptiveness and restrict adaptation to varying conditions. A corollary to this is that ‘mistakes’ should be easily undoable.

Of course, there are situations where permissions are necessary and unavoidable and must be supported.

Forgiveness is emphasized over permission

Internal as well as External

In the increasingly global, outsourced, collaborative economy, the boundaries between internal and external are getting fuzzier. At the same time with diminished vertical integration, external processes are as important as internal processes. Accordingly, Lean Processes should be supported both within an organization as well as across organizations.

Embrace Variation

Variation is a fact of life in business processes. Variation can occur across time, across companies, across departments, across roles etc. Accordingly, variation should be embraced. Rapid modification of processes, delayed formalization, zero-code, dynamic goal and task adjustment all enable business users to confidentally embrace variation.


Any user should be able to create, publish and execute Lean Processes. However, the organization should be able to bless some of these as ‘official’.

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