Process Science has popped up a couple of times in my previous posts, so it’s about time for a formal introduction and definition.
Let’s start with what it’s not.
If you Google process science the top results will include the “scientific process” (i.e. the scientific method) and the “process of science” – it’s not that. Additional results include the development of pharmaceuticals, chemicals and software. It’s not that either. You may even run into an organization or two with lofty notions of interdisciplinary design theory. Nope!
So what is it then??
Process Science is the field of study concerned with process development, optimization and control through the application of fundamental, universal first principles.
In English please.
Consider the following axioms of process science:
1. Processes convert inputs to outputs
2. Inputs have universally inherent characteristics
3. Conversions have universally inherent characteristics
4. Outputs have universally inherent characteristics
5. Processes can be influenced by parametric factors
6. Processes are constituents of systems
7. Processes exist in two overlaying domains: abstract and concrete
8. In the abstract domain all processes are similar and solutions are simple and broadly applicable
9. In the concrete domain all processes are unique and solutions are complex and application-specific
10. Domains are transcended through abstraction and concretion
That wasn’t English!
Abstraction is the conversion of something specific into a general concept, principle, quality or characteristic. It is the opposite of concretion, which is the conversion of a principle into an application-specific reality. Together, abstraction and concretion are quite useful in technical problem solving because they cause us to focus on the simplicity of the problem at hand without the clutter and noise of the surrounding environment.
My head hurts!
What we’re really saying here is that all processes share a core set of common attributes and principles. Even the most disparate of processes have more in common than not. By tapping into this fundamental commonality we can quickly identify simple solutions and the means to implement them.
Feeling a little better …
And it all begins with the Axioms of Process Science.
Wait – what did you mean by “universally inherent characteristics”?