An Experiment with Corporate RFCs
I was searching for an RFC-like or an ISO-like structure that defines a particular type of organizational processes. I did not find one, so the Corporate RFC (CRFC) (for example: CRFC2) is an experiment to see if structured specifications like that would be useful.
In software development, I came across RFCs and found them surprisingly effective in communicating protocol specifications. At the same time, being part of a large-enough organization, I find myself in need of being able to communicate heuristics and approaches to organizational practices that I found useful over time, for example: PRFAQ, Toyota A3, OKRs (still unsure about the utility of this one). PRFAQ, popularized by Amazon, doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry at the time of this writing.
Introducing a new organizational process takes time and lots of mentorship. However, part of the work to introduce a new process is all of the documentation required to communicate and establish the process. It seems to me that each one of us attempting this, is building custom documentation for a supposedly well-known process we are attempting to introduce. This is what I was searching for, some sort of standard documentation of a well-known process that I wouldn’t have to extract out of a series of blog posts, books, or courses. This is where my experience reading and using RFCs pointed at a possible approach.
One of the things that I find useful about RFC-like structure is that it seems to function toward the commodity end of the Wardley Evolution axis.
Another thing I find useful about RFC-like structure is that it is not a regulatory standard, and therefore not subject to licensing or certifications that I know of.
As mentioned and depicted on the image above, I understand the current state of the art for describing organizational processes to consist of blog posts, ad hoc agreements within organizations on an organizational standard (for example: standard way to do design reviews). Additionally, there exist certifications and licensed frameworks; the ones that come to mind are commercializations of Agile, but surely there are others. Then there are regulatory standards that are the cost of doing business like PCI, GDPR, etc.
I’m thinking that CRFC could be a way to provide RFC-like commodity specifications that we can share for the types of organizational processes that are not regulatory, but that summarize good or best practices within organizations. Their intended use would be as references to specific protocols that an organization wants to implement. Their specific scope would be somewhere between saying the phrase “PRFAQ” and writing down explicit patterns one can find for business processes in workflowpatterns.com.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate where a CRFC would fit in is by example, so there exist two initial examples for reference: CRFC2 and CRFC1.
If you’re interested in these types of specifications, the list of existing CRFCs is available at https://github.com/corporate-rfc/.
If you’re interested in contributing, the initial thoughts on contributions are available in https://github.com/corporate-rfc/DRAFTS.