The old school view of processes is they are convergent and represent another form of best practices like applications. While processes can support convergent activity, since that is where processes started, they have several different ways of supporting emergent activity. Processes technology is aimed at emerging better practices as well as best practices. New approaches to leverage free and emerging processes will also be evolving. The power of BPM technology to dynamically adapt will be harnessed over the next few years to keep pace with business needs. See http://jimsinur.blogspot.com/2013/04/days-are-numbered-for-rigid-processes.html Process technology supports emerging business needs through multiple adaptive approaches discussed in this posting.
Pattern & Event Driven:
Processes technologies are now either subsuming or getting connected to technologies that identify emerging business patterns of interest through complex event technologies, social analytic technologies and automated business process discovery technologies. These technologies either identify emerging patterns of interest or success patterns that have occurred in the past that have gone unnoticed before.
Processes have been traditionally flow directed, but now process technologies can support goal directed processes that either use static or dynamic goal models. The ideal support for goal directed processes would include agent technologies that can negotiate collaborative just in time processes.
Processes that are left to wander on their own and adapt automatically or semi-automatically need bumper guards to keep them on track. Constraints, which are inverted rules, can keep processes from going out of bounds and remain compliant despite their new found agility and freedom to act.
Adaptive Case Management:
Case management has always been an excellent way to get knowledge workers to collaborate, but with the advent if adaptive case management, milestones can change dynamically to support emergent cases and work patterns. This allows exceptions to be handled without stopping the case until a new milestone can be designed into the case structure. Just like process paths that do not need to be all pre-planned, cases can evolve.
The reality of processes, going forward is that they will be composed of structured best practices and emerging better practices necessitated by emerging business need. This means that processes as we know them will likely use all of the aforementioned techniques and technologies.
Process folks have to stop being parochial in their approaches and branch out into other forms of successful business process methods and technologies. This is no time to be myopic in our approach to solving business problems with processes