Now for a really yummy topic.
Googling the word role yelds: “The function assumed or part played by a person or thing in a particular situation”. The ending text “in a particular situation” reminds us that roles are meaningful when anything is actually being done by someone within a context – whenever a person acts for a given role in real life.
While modeling processes (for instance using BPMN2.0) roles help define what competences one must have to successfully execute a set of activities without specifying real people.
Just like in a scripted dialog for a Broadway play.
- We must have separate representations for: hierarchy, roles and activities/processes. This way we can maintain roles regardless of changes in organization or activities.
- Approvals go to key people holding authority. They need information to decide. Going up the hierarchy is an obvious source for finding the right approver albeit not the only one – this works because when you go up you get discrete higher levels of responsibility regarding decision taking. On the other hand power to decide may be concentrated in specialized/shared areas in the organization (procurement for instance). So we need more than one hierarchy tree.
- What one calls “end user” is a consumer of activity outcomes. They need answers to their specific needs and are catalysts for all kinds of chains of action with multiple actors.
- Departments, teams and groups are functional and meant to retain and provide people expertise for performing activities. It is easier to manage users by grouping them (this is distinct from hierarchy even if there may be some correlation).
- Every person has a (stable) job description closely related to their job function and position in the organization.
- Every person performs chameleon-like temporary (dynamic) roles depending on what they are actually performing right now. These are role-centric.
This deserves more thinking.
“Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.”
Jane Goodall English ethologist & zoologist (1934 – )