Process Views: Focusing on Certain Aspects of Processes
As a concept becomes more abstract so does the discrepancy in the ways different people construe its meaning. A concept that refers to a tangible object, like that of a chair for example, is likely to be understood more or less in the same way by two people. With abstract concepts, such as those used in a process, however, understanding is much less likely to be achieved without further clarification. One of the reasons for this difficulty is that abstractions are not perceived by our five senses as "real" objects (like a chair that we can see and touch) and, therefore, must be understood based on abstract models. If these models do not exist or if they are too rough and incomplete, a sense of perplexity often develops.
As with most abstract entities, processes need to be
modeled so people can understand them and, more importantly, so two or more
people can understand them in roughly the same way. Irrespective of how
complex, models are limited representations in most cases, whether of real
objects or abstract entities. A representation of a transistor, for example,
can help one predict how it will behave (e.g., amplify an electrical input)
when an electrical impulse of a certain voltage is applied to it. Still, the
same representation can be almost useless when predicting the operation of the
same transistor if the input is an alternating current with a frequency above
a certain level (e.g., as in analog telecommunication circuits). Similarly, a
certain representation of a car, such as a diagram in an owner's manual that explains the basic operation of the car, can be detailed enough for someone who wants to drive the car yet useless to someone who needs to repair the car. In fact, perhaps the only characteristic that is shared by all models is that they are all incomplete.
A few main types of process models or views are discussed in the following subsections. As discussed above, these views lead to incomplete representations of processes and, therefore, should be understood in terms of their pros and cons in today's information-and knowledge-intensive organizational environments.