Business Process Improvements in Hierarchical Organizations:
A Case Study Focusing on Collaboration and Creativity
Simone C. dos Santos
, Malu Xavier
and Carla Ribeiro
Centro de Informática, Federal University of Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil
Keywords: Business Process Improvement, Collaboration, Creativity, Case Study, Hierarchical Organization.
Abstract: This paper describes a case study of business process improvement (BPI) in a large and hierarchical
organization in the public sector. Business Process Management (BPM) is crucial in the inevitable digital
transformation of large organizations, streamlining workflows and enhancing efficiency. It involves
systematic design, execution, and continuous improvement of processes, incorporating efficient activities and
digital tools like automation and artificial intelligence. Despite the benefits, implementing BPM in highly
hierarchical organizations poses challenges, including resistance to change and communication barriers. Thus,
the paper advocates a collaborative and creative BPI approach to address these as a crucial stage of the BPM
cycle. Collaboration is essential for breaking down silos and promoting a holistic BPM approach, while
creativity facilitates transformative change in established norms. From several BPI methodologies available,
we select and apply one called Boomerang in a collaborative workshop format. This methodology is based
on a design thinking process and gamification strategy. A case study utilizing Boomerang demonstrates
successful BPI by balancing established structures with innovative transformations. Still, lessons learned are
identified, emphasizing the need for careful preparation of a collaborative workshop, stakeholders’ selection,
a kit of artifacts to support this event, and a trained group to conduct the BPI process.
Business Process Management (BPM) plays a
fundamental role in the digital transformation of large
organizations, optimizing and streamlining their
operational workflows (Pihir, 2019). At its core, BPM
involves the systematic design, execution,
monitoring, and continuous improvement of business
processes to increase organizational efficiency and
effectiveness (Brocke and Rosemann, 2015; Jeston
and Nelis, 2006). In large and hierarchical
organizations, easily found in the public sector, BPM
can help identify outdated or inefficient processes and
replace them with automated, technology-based
solutions (Ghatari et al., 2014). This may involve
integrating digital tools such as workflow
automation, artificial intelligence, and data analytics
to improve productivity and decision-making (Pihir,
2019). Moreover, BPM can promote collaboration
between departments, eliminating silos and
promoting a more cohesive approach to digitalization
(Pernici and Weske, 2006; Rosemann, 2015). By
continually monitoring and analysing processes,
BPM allows organizations to identify areas for
improvement, ensuring that digital initiatives are
implemented and refined for continued success in the
ever-evolving digital landscape. Therefore, BPM is a
strategic driver that guides large organizations along
their digital transformation journey, driving
operational excellence and promoting a culture of
continuous improvement (Ahmad & Van Looy,
Despite these opportunities and benefits,
implementing BPM presents several challenges,
especially in large, highly hierarchical organizations.
Due to their complex structures and human-centric
and knowledge-intensive business processes, a
significant obstacle is resistance to change from
stakeholders involved in a BPM project since
hierarchical structures often establish entrenched
processes and organizational culture (Ghatari et al.,
2014). Convincing leaders to adopt BPM can be
complex, as it can disrupt existing power dynamics
and require a change in mentality that cannot always
Santos, S., Xavier, M. and Ribeiro, C.
Business Process Improvements in Hierarchical Organizations: A Case Study Focusing on Collaboration and Creativity.
DOI: 10.5220/0012697900003690
Paper published under CC license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
In Proceedings of the 26th International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems (ICEIS 2024) - Volume 2, pages 721-732
ISBN: 978-989-758-692-7; ISSN: 2184-4992
Proceedings Copyright © 2024 by SCITEPRESS Science and Technology Publications, Lda.
be achieved agilely (Looy, 2018). This complexity is
even more evident in the public sector, where
leadership positions are dynamic and periodic
(Ghatari et al., 2014). Siled departments may resist
sharing data, making creating integrated, streamlined
processes challenging. Furthermore, decision-making
processes can be slow and bureaucratic, preventing
the agility that BPM aims to achieve. Thus,
communication and collaboration barriers are
prevalent in hierarchical organizations, hindering the
continuous flow of information necessary for
effective BPM (Ghatari et al., 2014).
These challenges require change management
strategies, promoting a culture of openness to
innovation, and ensuring clear communication
channels (Looy, 2018). In this context, this article
defends an approach that stimulates the collaboration
and creativity of stakeholders involved in BPM
projects of hierarchical organizations, focusing on the
business process redesign and co-creation of the To-
Be model, a critical stage in business process
improvement (BPI) (Stojanović, 2016).
Collaboration and creativity are fundamental to
business process improvement (BPI) in large, highly
hierarchical organizations. In a context where rigid
structures and silos often prevail, promoting
collaboration is crucial to breaking down
communication barriers and promoting a holistic
approach to BPI, considering business and
technology sectors (Attaran, 2003). Furthermore,
cross-functional collaboration involving multiple
sectors and perspectives leads to more comprehensive
insights into existing processes and innovative
solutions for improvement with a broad view of
existing problems (Pernici and Weske, 2006). On the
other hand, creativity plays a central role in
identifying new approaches to streamline operations
and increase efficiency. Creative problem-solving
allows teams to think beyond traditional boundaries
and envision new, more effective processes (Figl &
Weber, 2012). Thus, in hierarchical organizations,
where adherence to established norms is common,
infusing creativity into BPI processes becomes a
catalyst for transformative change.
Several strategies can be employed to promote
collaboration and creativity within the BPI of these
organizations (Rosemann, 2015). Leadership must
actively encourage a culture of openness to ideas,
recognizing and rewarding innovative thinking.
Establishing cross-functional teams that bring
together individuals from different departments
promotes diverse perspectives (Cereja et al., 2018).
Creating a safe space for employees to express ideas
without fear of criticism encourages creative thinking
(Brown, 2009). Additionally, implementing
technology platforms for collaborative work and
sharing ideas facilitates communication and
engagement (Kock, 2005). By prioritizing these
aspects, large hierarchical organizations can navigate
the challenges of their structures and harness the full
potential of their workforce for successful business
process improvement.
This paper describes a case study that adopts a
combination of these alternatives through the
Boomerang Methodology defined in (Picanço &
Santos, 2022). Based on collaborative techniques,
design thinking methodology, and a gamification
strategy, this method was adapted and used in a BPM
Project of a large, highly hierarchical organization in
the judicial sector. The results prove the effectiveness
of this approach, showing that successful BPM in this
kind of organization requires a careful balance
between respecting established structures and driving
the transformations necessary to unlock efficiency
and innovation.
Business Process Improvement (BPI) holds
significant importance within the Business Process
Management (BPM) cycle, contributing to enhanced
efficiency, effectiveness, and overall organizational
performance (Rashid & Ahmad, 2013; Smith, 2003;
Jeston and Nelis, 2006). BPI involves identifying,
analysing, and restructuring existing processes to
optimize outcomes. Integrating BPI into the BPM
cycle ensures a continuous and systematic approach
to managing and refining business processes.
Moreover, BPI fosters innovation and creativity. It
encourages a culture of continuous improvement,
empowering employees to contribute ideas for
process enhancement. This adaptability is crucial in
today's dynamic business environment, where
continuous changes require organizations to be
efficient and responsive.
BPI has two primary modalities (Stojanović,
2016): process redesign and reengineering. Process
redesign involves making incremental changes to
existing processes for optimization. In contrast,
process reengineering is more radical, requiring
fundamental restructuring to achieve significant
improvements. Both modalities aim to improve
operational performance to achieve substantial gains
in efficiency and effectiveness. Considering large and
hierarchical organizations, a BPM project usually
focuses on process redesign. So, the case study
ICEIS 2024 - 26th International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
discussed in Section 5 describes a public sector
experience in this context.
In general, there are several approaches to
carrying out a BPI initiative. Rashid & Ahmad (2013)
identifies and summarizes eight methodologies used
in BPI: MIPI (Model-Based Integrated Process
Improvement) Methodology, Super Methodology,
Benchmarking Methodology, PDCA (Plan-Do-
Check-Act) cycles, Lean Thinking, Six Sigma,
Kaizen, and TQM (Total Quality Management).
MIPI Methodology is a comprehensive approach
developed by Adesola & Baines (2005) to enhance
business process improvement in organizations. This
generic model comprises phases of understanding
business needs, modelling, and reviewing new
processes. It provides a hierarchical structure with
elements such as aim, actions, people involved,
checklists, and relevant tools. MIPI helps
organizations select and address the main barriers to
achieving their vision and mission, aligning with
business needs. Its generic nature may lead to
limitations in addressing specific industry nuances.
The hierarchical structure, while providing guidance,
may also introduce complexity. The Super
Methodology proposed by Lee and Chuah (2001)
combines continuous process improvement (CPI),
business process reengineering (BPR), and
benchmarking (BPB). This approach recognizes that
not all organizations can benefit from each, and a
combination may be more suitable. The Super
Methodology focuses on process selection,
understanding, measurement, execution, and
reviewing, aiming to make significant improvements,
particularly in small to medium-sized companies. The
Benchmarking Methodology involves continuously
comparing an organization's strategy, products, and
processes with those of successful counterparts
(Dragolea & Cotirlea, 2009). Originating in Japan in
the 1950s, it aims to adapt successful practices and
ideas to reduce costs and cycle time and enhance
competitive positioning. The methodology includes
planning, analysis, integration, actions, and maturity
phases, with internal and external benchmarking. The
PDCA Methodology is a continuous improvement
cycle developed by Walter Shewhart and popularized
by Dr. W. Edwards Deming (Sokovic, 2010). It
consists of four phases that emphasize accurate
planning, incremental implementation, measurement,
and feedback. PDCA is widely used in developing
and deploying quality policies within organizations.
Lean Thinking, originating in Toyota, focuses on
reducing waste to improve business performance. The
methodology involves sorting, straightening,
scrubbing, systematizing, and sustaining activities to
eliminate non-value-added elements (Valencia,
2006). Lean is recognized for its effectiveness in both
manufacturing and service industries. Six Sigma
Methodology, introduced by Motorola's Bill Smith in
1986, aims to eliminate errors and defects in business
processes (Antony, 2004). The DMAIC phases
(Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control) focus
on measuring and analysing operational processes,
identifying root causes of defects, and implementing
improvements. Combining with Lean Manufacturing
results in Lean Six Sigma, enhancing savings and
efficiency across sectors. The Kaizen method,
implemented in Japanese industries after World War
II, emphasizes continuous improvement through
small, incremental changes involving all employees
(Radnor, 2010). Utilizing the PDCA cycle, Kaizen
fosters a culture of improvement at minimal
implementation costs. TQM is a system that aims to
increase customer satisfaction through continuous
improvement (Dahlgaard and Dahlgaard-Park, 2006).
It fosters a collaborative culture with active employee
participation, focusing on quality, long-term success,
and customer satisfaction. The methodology involves
process selection, preparation, analysis, redesign,
implementation, and improvement, leading to
financial, operational, and customer success.
Regardless of their benefits and challenges, many
of these methodologies are focused on the industrial
and manufacturing sectors. Furthermore, some are
not recommended for large companies, such as Super
Methodology, and others are too generic or complex,
making adopting difficult. Despite these
characteristics, these methodologies can be
references to more prescriptive approaches. Thus,
considering these methodologies, the Boomerang
Methodology proposed in this study is firmly based
on the PDCA concerning a process that includes
planning, prototyping, evaluation, and continuous
improvements – combined with the Design Thinking
process concerning the people's collaboration and
Several approaches, especially those based on design
thinking (DT), can be used in BPI, focusing on
collaboration and creativity.
The Double Diamond Methodology involves four
stages Discover, Define, Develop, and Deliver.
Emphasizing collaboration encourages diverse teams
to ideate and refine solutions collaboratively,
Business Process Improvements in Hierarchical Organizations: A Case Study Focusing on Collaboration and Creativity
ensuring creative input at every stage of BPI
(Caulliraux et al., 2020).
The IDEO's Human-Centered Design (HCD)
framework focuses on understanding user needs and
involves continuous collaboration (Rosinsky et al.,
2022). Teams work together to empathize with users,
define problem areas, ideate creative solutions, and
implement iterative prototypes, fostering a
collaborative and user-centric BPI process. IBM's
Design Thinking approach integrates design thinking
into problem-solving (Liedtka et al., 2013). It
emphasizes collaboration through multidisciplinary
teams, encourages user feedback, and employs
iterative prototyping. This fosters a creative, user-
centric mindset in BPI projects, ensuring the final
solutions address stakeholders' needs and
experiences. The Service Design Thinking approach
involves visualizing and improving the entire service
experience (Stickdorn et al., 2018). Collaboration is
inherent as cross-functional teams work together to
understand user journeys, identify pain points, and
co-create solutions. This methodology strongly
emphasizes creativity and collaboration to enhance
the overall service or business process. Finally,
Stanford D.School's Design Thinking methodology
provides tools and methods for design thinking,
emphasizing collaboration and creativity (D.School,
2017). It includes brainstorming and prototyping,
fostering a hands-on, collaborative approach to
problem-solving in BPI. The Boomerang
methodology adopted in this current study is based on
this methodology.
All these methodologies share common traits of
user-centricity, iterative processes, and cross-
functional collaboration. They prioritize empathy,
ensuring solutions resonate with user needs. Cross-
functional teams with diverse perspectives
collaborate in problem framing and creative ideation.
Visualization techniques, such as prototyping,
facilitate hands-on understanding and foster
creativity. Open communication encourages the free
exchange of ideas, creating a dynamic environment.
It is essential to highlight that, even with all these
positive characteristics, stakeholders' different power
levels can negatively impact open communication in
large, highly hierarchical organizations. In this
context, the proposal adopted in this study proved
entirely appropriate, as it combines the characteristics
of a DT-based process and gamification strategies to
guarantee everyone's participation, regardless of the
positions involved.
This qualitative research adopts action research and
the case study method. According to Patton (2002),
research is said to be qualitative when it aims to
investigate what people do, know, think, and feel
through data collection techniques such as
observation, interviews, questionnaires, document
analysis, interactive dynamics, and among others.
Merriam & Tisdell (2015) explain that action research
is an approach that aims to solve a problem in
practice, contributing to the research process itself
and addressing a specific problem in an authentic
environment such as an organization. Johansson
(2007) highlights that the case study must have a
"case" that is the object of study, which must be a
complex functional unit, be investigated in its natural
context with different methods, and be contemporary.
It is common for case studies to use several research
methods, considered a "meta-method," allowing data
collection from various sources and at different times,
which need to be cross analysed for consistent
considerations and conclusions.
The following subsections will present the
research steps and BPI methodology used in the case
study to clarify how the research was conducted.
4.1 Research Steps
The current study continues the applied research
published in (Picanço & Santos, 2022). The original
study's research problem was engaging, stimulating,
and motivating stakeholders in BPI projects. With
practical motivation, based on evidence found in the
authors' work environment, interviews with process
stakeholders, related studies in the literature,
exploratory research on creative companies, and an
investigation of collaboration and management
techniques, a methodology based on Design Thinking
(DT) and gamification strategy was defined, called
Boomerang Methodology. Figure 1 illustrates the
research process in summary.
The methodology was created following the
Design Science Research (DSR) method by Hevner
(2004) in three PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycles.
During the creation process, the methodology
evolved to define stages based on a DT process (cycle
1) and the need to build a collaborative game for the
ideation stage (cycle 2), which generally requires
greater participant creativity.
In (Picanço & Santos, 2022), considering
evaluating the usability and usefulness of the
methodology, a first case study was carried out on a
simple and short BPM project aimed at improving the
ICEIS 2024 - 26th International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
monitor selection process in a higher education
institution (cycle 3). The results were very positive,
in addition to identifying lessons learned and used as
recommendations for use (guides).
Figure 1: Methodology framework.
Continuing this research, the current study sought
to apply the Boomerang methodology in a complex
BPM project. Identifying the same problems as the
original research related to stakeholders' motivation,
engagement, and collaboration in business process
improvement projects, the methodology was quickly
identified as an appropriate strategy by the
consultants in this BPM project. Considering the
institution's characteristics (large, highly hierarchical,
and public sector) and the BPM project (legal sector
processes, strongly human-centered and knowledge-
intensive), some adaptations to the Boomerang
methodology were necessary (cycle 4), enabling its
use in this new scenario, detailed in the next section.
The new case study is detailed in Section 5 (cycle 5).
It is important to emphasize that both check steps of
DSR cycles 4 and 5 were carried out through
feedback from participants in the case study described
in this paper, discussed in Section 5.
4.2 Adapting BPI Methodology
The objective of the Boomerang Methodology is to
support the process analyst or any manager in a BPM
project in business process redesign activities
(Picanço & Santos, 2022). This support is based on a
DT process in five stages: empathize, define,
imagine, prototype, and test. Each stage involves
activities, guidelines for conducting these activities,
recommendations for artifacts and support tools for
each, and the definition of expected results. Figure 2
illustrates the Methodology process. The description
of these activities, guidelines, recommendations, and
expected results can be found in (Picanço & Santos,
Figure 2: Boomerang Methodology. Source: (Picanço &
Santos, 2022).
The Boomerang Methodology was developed to
motivate, engage, and stimulate business process
stakeholders' involvement, participation, and
creativity, focusing on BPI. To achieve this, the
Methodology is based on four principles: Innovation
& creativity, aiming to bring together people to
collaborate in solving problems in exchange for
recognition and offering new experiences to improve
processes; Engagement, seeking collaboration
mechanisms and promoting people's involvement and
motivation; Agility, understanding people's desires
and speeding up the production of ideas through
learning from errors and rapid evolution;
Adaptability, and can be applied and adapted to
different contexts and organizations.
Considering these principles, the Boomerang
Methodology was presented to a group of managers
and process analysts from a process office of a large
public institution in Law during the phase of
proposing improvements in a BPM project. This
group comprised six members: a process office
manager, a project manager, two process analysts,
and two BPM specialists. From this presentation and
discussions, it was decided to adopt the methodology
in a workshop format, as recommended in (Picanço &
Santos, 2022). Considering the institution's
characteristics, the need for some adaptations to the
Methodology was pointed out. The following
subsections describe the main changes at each stage.
4.2.1 Empathize
According to (Picanço & Santos, 2022), this phase is
concerned with ensuring empathy, recovering
people's stories, identifying the researched
community members, and beginning to understand
the problem to be solved. This stage has the following
Business Process Improvements in Hierarchical Organizations: A Case Study Focusing on Collaboration and Creativity
activities: team building, exploratory research, and
conversation initiation.
Considering the model of large hierarchical
institutions, forming teams involves selecting key
stakeholders involved with the process to be
redesigned and the need to maintain heterogeneous
teams concerning their roles and responsibilities.
These considerations reflect the need to form teams
that involve business areas (owners, users, and
process managers) and technology (systems and
infrastructure), in addition to participants with skills
in process modelling, such as the process analyst, and
with the power to conduct the workshop, as the
process office manager. It is essential to highlight
that, in complex processes, it is common for many
stakeholders to be involved in activities related to
various functional sectors. As a cross-functional
strategy, it is essential to identify which key
stakeholders should participate and define the number
of teams, enabling the effectiveness of the results and
control of the workshop.
Exploratory research activities often involve the
need for preparation on the part of workshop
participants so that they can contribute to proposing
improvements. Therefore, guests must receive a
communication explaining the project objectives, the
list of participants, and the expected results of the
event days before the meeting. Considering that large
projects involve their stakeholders from the initial
planning phase, it is natural that most guests already
know each other. However, a self-introduction by
each participant is recommended as part of the event's
opening. Finally, it is also important to establish good
conduct agreements for the workshop, such as
avoiding cell phone use, staying focused on your
team's work, and respecting time control.
4.2.2 Define
This step seeks a deep understanding of the needs,
constraints, and challenges to be faced through the
following activities: visualizing the current scenario,
creating an insights statement, and identifying
guiding rules.
In this study, this stage did not change; we only
reinforced some recommendations. The first of these
concerns the current scenario. Even considering that
the process improvement workshop is a step in the
BPM life cycle after other interactive steps of the
BPM project (such as planning, modelling of the
current process, and process analysis), it is crucial to
post the current process model (model As-Is) in the
environment where the in-person event will take
place so that stakeholders can consult it if necessary.
It is essential to note that this model should not be
entirely unknown to the participants, as it would
involve time spent explaining the process that would
compromise the improvement workshop's objectives.
Therefore, this model must be part of the information
necessary to prepare the meeting, provided for in the
previous stage of the methodology (Empathy).
Another critical point is to bring consolidated results
of earlier stages of the BPM cycle to the workshop,
such as initial ideas for solutions discussed in the
process analysis (insights) and guiding criteria such
as prerequisites, assumptions, and restrictions for
idealizing improvements.
4.2.3 Ideate
The Ideate stage aims to create new opportunities and
solutions for the challenge of process improvements,
containing the following activities: gamestorming
session, combining best solutions, and visualizing
solutions. The gamestorming activity is supported by
the game (Creative Thinking Planning game or CTP,
for short), developed in the second design cycle of the
methodology, allowing each participant to propose
ideas that are voted on by others, approving or
disapproving them. This was the main adaptation
made to the methodology.
In the initial version, the CTP game considered
forming a single team whose participants interact
with each other in proposing ideas and voting. So, the
first change was to adapt the game for multiple teams.
In the context of complex processes, a good practice
adopted by the market is to design the model as a
macro process composed of sub-processes. Thus,
multiple team formation favours identifying
improvements by sub-processes and provides an
integrated vision between the teams in understanding
the macro process. The second change was to adapt
the game's dynamics to enable short encounters of 3-
4 hours in length, considering multiple teams and
many ideas to manage. To achieve this, the number of
ideas to be defended by each team was limited, even
though several ideas were discussed among its
members. Finally, rejected ideas were discarded in
the initial version, while in this new version, rejected
ideas are recorded in a history of ideas, justifying the
results. The case study section will discuss this phase
and game dynamics.
4.2.4 Prototype
The Prototype stage results in implementing the ideas
generated in the previous stage through a new design
of the suggested process (To-Be model), in addition
to analysing the feasibility of the proposed solution
ICEIS 2024 - 26th International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
(Picanço & Santos, 2022). This stage has the
following activities: the definition of a prototype with
the selected ideas, the design of the improved process
draft, and the capabilities spreadsheet to support the
feasibility analysis.
Two main updates were made at this stage.
Considering the complexity of the process under
discussion and the work with multiple teams, the first
recommendation is that the process design can be
built by sub-processes led by their respective teams.
Planning time for integration between process models
during the workshop is essential, giving all
stakeholders a holistic view of the complete process.
The second update was the creation of a spreadsheet
to record ideas, with information on who, how, and
when to implement the solutions. This spreadsheet
also has specific tabs for analysing feasibility from
economic, technological, and chronological
perspectives, supporting the process analyst in
completing this stage. The case study will present
more details about this artifact in the next section.
4.2.5 Test
The Test phase supports feedback from those
involved more broadly, considering information
sharing among everyone. This stage has the following
activities: evaluate solutions, create a pitch, and
obtain feedback. The methodology maintained these
activities, including the time necessary for each team
to present the ideas incorporated in the draft To-Be
process and for debates about these ideas,
capabilities, and information about implementation
and feasibility. It is essential to highlight that all
participants voted on and approved all ideas
incorporated in the draft process designed in the
After the workshop, a more detailed assessment
was carried out with all participants using an
electronic form consisting of seven questions (five
objective and two subjective). The objective
questions related to the information shared, group
work, activity quality, methodology, and workshop
conduction. These questions were segmented into
statement items, subject to evaluation based on the
Likert scale of five values: strongly disagree (SD),
partially disagree (PD), neither agree nor disagree
(NN), partially agree (PA), and strongly agree (SA).
Subjective questions refer to positive points and
points for improvement. More details about the
application of these assessments will also be
described in the case study section.
4.2.6 Comparing Boomerang with Others
BPI Methodologies
The Boomerang method is unique in its structured yet
flexible approach, incorporating elements like
gamification for engagement, a straightforward five-
stage process for innovation, and adaptability to
different organizational contexts. It aims to make the
process improvement experience more engaging and
innovative, contrasting with methodologies that may
focus more on efficiency, standardization, or
statistical control. Unlike Boomerang, MIPI is more
about harmonizing existing processes with standards
and less about innovation and engagement. The Super
Methodology, while also versatile, may not
specifically prioritize user experience and rapid
ideation as Boomerang does with its five stages.
Considering the Benchmarking Methodology,
Boomerang emphasizes internal innovation and
creative problem-solving rather than external
comparison. Boomerang shares a cyclic nature
(through its stages) as PDCA cycles but adds a strong
focus on creativity and user engagement. Unlike
Boomerang, Lean Thinking is more about
streamlining and efficiency than exploring innovative
solutions. Boomerang, while potentially benefiting
from Six Sigma's analytical rigor, places more
emphasis on ideation and adaptability. Kaizen and
Boomerang emphasize engagement, but Boomerang
specifically incorporates gamification and a
structured five-stage process. TQM shares a focus on
quality and involvement with Boomerang but may not
explicitly prioritize rapid prototyping and testing.
The case study was conducted in a Pernambuco Court
of Justice (Brazil) by its BPM Office (BPMO) with
the support of a consulting team from the Centre of
Informatics at UFPE University. The institution is
part of the public sector and has a low level of
maturity in BPM. There are a few documented
processes, some developed by the BPMO, but the IT
sector developed most.
In BPI workshop, the BPMO focused on the
Repetitive Demand Resolution Incident (RDRI)
process, considering its impact on the efficiency of
the judgments. The RDRI consists of generating and
setting a standardized judicial solution (legal thesis)
that can solve a mass of repetitive similar demands
that enter the institution (lawsuits filed in court). The
main intention was to optimize that process and allow
to monitor its performance. Between the start of the
Business Process Improvements in Hierarchical Organizations: A Case Study Focusing on Collaboration and Creativity
process and the generated decision application, a list
of procedures needs to be executed by different roles
and sectors. So, the process redesign was mapped
during the first phases of the pilot project with the
cooperation of diverse process stakeholders.
All stakeholders already knew the current state of
the process, and the BPMO needed their collaboration
to propose solutions for the problems and challenges.
At that moment, some concerns arose regarding the
engagement of stakeholders in this activity due to this
highly hierarchical environment.
The proposal to use the Boomerang Methodology
was grounded in the idea of active participation of
stakeholders from different sectors and mindsets.
There was a consensus that gamification would make
it possible to reduce certain inhibiting factors. Thus,
it was expected that all participants, not just the
magistrates, would feel confident in proposing and
approving – or rejecting – new ideas.
5.1 Applying BPI Approach
5.1.1 Empathize
The first stage was organically developed during the
BPM lifecycle's Design (As-Is modelling) and
Analysis phases. Since then, the involved team of
stakeholders has been collaborating with the
understanding of needs, problems to be solved, and
challenges in the process.
The first activity, “Build a Team,” was based on
the team of stakeholders of the project and other
collaborators with qualification or expertise related to
the theme and with different responsibilities. With the
help of the Strategic Management sector, the
workshop teams with seven facilitators (from BPMO
and consulting team) and 15 participants (project
stakeholders) were defined. From that moment of
defining participants, there had already been the
intention of composing heterogeneous groups. To
optimize the workshop execution, the participants
were divided into three heterogenous groups, each
with five members from different professional areas:
Process Operations, Process Management, Legal
(Magistrate), and IT.
The “Exploratory Research” was mainly the
compilation by the BPMO of the most relevant
information collected from interviews, meetings, and
questionnaires applied before the BPI workshop.
Many of the participants' teams had already
collaborated with the project precisely by providing
information about the process. Furthermore, the
entire defined group was familiar with the ongoing
5.1.2 Define
According to the Boomerang Methodology, the first
activity of this second stage, "View Current
Scenario," consisted of presenting the current process
(As-Is) to the participants' team. Even though most of
them participated in the As-Is modelling workshop
the semester before, the visualization would be
crucial to rekindle everyone's memory and focus on
the workshop's goals. The BPMO team plotted the
As-Is model and posted it on one of the room's walls
to optimize the time available to hold the workshop
event, as shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3: As-Is model plotted in the event.
The activities for creating an insight statement
were also previously developed by the BPMO based
on the information gathered until then. That way, the
Boomerang Methodology cards were set to start the
CTP game: 1) Challenge Cards were oriented by the
process indicators previously defined by the
institution's Strategic Plan, for example, the average
time to judge cases; 2) Insight Cards were based on
general ideas already given by some stakeholders in
the As-Is process analysis. Still, it was identifying
guiding rules related to the premises and restrictions
of the BPM project.
5.1.3 Ideate
The third Boomerang Methodology stage began with
the division of participants into three different
predetermined groups in different tables. A facilitator
with prior knowledge of BPM was assigned to assist
at each table. Four more facilitators were assigned to
perform the following activities: (1) introduce the
game dynamics and conduct the activities, (2) support
the voting process using a platform specialized in
game-based learning, and (3) assist all other
facilitators and participants. Figure 4 illustrates the
game dynamic.
After explaining the play mechanics, the
gamestorming began with the introduction of a
Challenge Card. The related guiding criteria and
Insight Cards were then presented.
ICEIS 2024 - 26th International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
Figure 4: CTP Game dynamic. Source (Picanço & Santos,
Each group had the opportunity to (1) discuss
internally the problem presented, (2) think of possible
solutions, (3) choose one to three of them to register on
the blue anagram card (a hexagon-shaped paper card),
and finally (4) present and submit their idea(s) for
consideration and voting by the other participants.
Activities 1 to 3 took 20 minutes, and all group
members participated intensely. Activity 4, which took
2 minutes, was led by a group speaker aided by
colleagues' commentaries, and voting took 2 minutes.
A timer projected on one of the room's walls controlled
the duration of activities. From the tutor's perspective,
the motivation and engagement of participants in these
activities were evident, as will be shown in Section 5.2.
This cycle was performed three times, one for
each Challenge Card introduced. Of the nine
anagrams presented, only one was not approved by
the other groups. It is important to highlight that the
unapproved idea was from a magistrate participant
(top management), highlighting how democratic this
approach is. The approved ideas were placed near
their respective yellow anagram cards (Organization,
People, and Technology), forming a hive, and thus
showing their connections with each of the themes
represented on the cards, as shown in Figure 5.
Figure 5: Approved solutions posted in an anagram.
5.1.4 Prototype
At this stage, the groups registered the approved
solutions on the “Menu of Ideas.” Then, with the help
of BPM analysts (facilitators), the solutions
mentioned above were designed in BPMN.
The first activity was to define a prototype with
the approved ideas. To reduce redundancy among
similar submissions, it was agreed that only one of the
groups that suggested overlapping ideas would be
responsible for modelling them.
After that, the groups filled out the capabilities
spreadsheet to support the feasibility analysis of each
approved idea. The time spent for these two activities
was 1 1/2 hours, and by the end, except for only one
solution, all the others were prototyped in BPMN and
had their feasibility sheets filled. Figure 6 shows one
of these prototypes, after process update.
Figure 6: Process model considering idea 3.
5.1.5 Test
The last Boomerang Methodology stage is intended
to consolidate the ideas generated for the new process
during the event. Considering the limitation of time
to execute the workshop, the BMPO decided
previously that this stage activities would be mainly
realized asynchronously. Therefore, the first and
second activities, “Evaluate Solutions” and “Create a
Pitch,” were developed by the BPMO team as part of
the BPM Lifecycle To-Be stage. The “Evaluate
Solutions” activity was carried out from 3
perspectives of viability: technological, economic,
and chronological. Based on the information gathered
with stakeholders, each solution was rated from 1 to
10 in these three aspects. This information is relevant
to rank and select the solutions implemented at the
BPM Lifecycle Implantation stage.
5.2 Assessment & Analysis
The last Boomerang Methodology activity, “Obtain
Feedback,” was executed through an electronic form
sent to the workshop participants. To coordinate the
collected data, the research was carried out from the
following perspectives: information shared, group
work, activity quality, Boomerang methodology,
workshop conduction, the positive points, and, finally,
points for improvement. The first five questions were
objective ones. This evaluation is based on the assess-
ment model proposed in (Picanço & Santos, 2022),
considering the usability and utility of the approach.
Business Process Improvements in Hierarchical Organizations: A Case Study Focusing on Collaboration and Creativity
Regarding the information provided to realize the
activities, 100% of the interviewees agree (strongly
and partially) that it was enough and clearly and
objectively presented, as shown in Figure 7.
About the group of participants, 100% agree
(most strongly) that the selected participants had full
knowledge about the process and showed
engagement during the event, as shown in Figure 8.
There were no conflicts between the participants, and
88% (strongly agree) indicated that everyone who
needed to participate attended the workshop.
Figure 7: Information shared results.
Figure 8: Group work results.
Regarding their feelings about the overall
workshop (Figure 9), 100% of the interviewees agree
(most strongly) that they felt motivated during the
activities, stated that they would participate again to
identify solutions, that the seminar had contributed to
a better understanding of the process, and that the
activities can stimulate creativity and innovation, and
opined that the workshop dynamics promoted the
interactions between participants.
Regarding the technique adopted (Figure 10),
100% of the respondents agree that most people
would learn the methodology easily and that the
Boomerang was capable of extracting their
knowledge about the process; 88% reported that the
Boomerang is entirely adequate to improve business
processes, that they felt it trustworthy, that they felt
comfortable to apply the concepts and techniques into
real-life situations, and that the workshop offered
practical examples that helped the better
understanding of the gamification; and 75% opined
that the technical support is needed to utilize the
techniques and disagreed that the Boomerang does
not favour the contribution with essential insights.
About the process analysts that conducted the
workshop (Figure 11), 100% agree (strongly and
partially) that the analysts conducted well the
workshop dynamics and 88% had the perception that
the analysts had experience with process mapping and
had a domain of the Boomerang application.
Figure 9: Quality activity results.
Figure 10: Methodology results.
Figure 11: Workshop conduction results.
ICEIS 2024 - 26th International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
The last two questions were subjective. The first
subjective question asked about the positive points of
the workshop. The respondents highlighted the clarity
and objectivity of the explanations, the interaction,
the engagement, the acquisition of knowledge, the
plurality of professionals involved, and the suitable
place to carry on the activities.
Finally, the second subjective question asked for
points for improvement. The interviewees pointed out
that there should be more time to debate since some
of the participants couldn't always contribute because
of that limitation; the voting system adopted could be
a better one; it would be better for the competition if
there were more clarity about the level of
development of the ideas; it would be better if the
event had more breaks because the overall duration of
the event.
5.3 Discussions: Lessons Learned and
Adopting the Boomerang Methodology in the BPM
project in a large, highly hierarchical organization
revealed opportunities and challenges. On the one
hand, it was easy to integrate the approach into the
BPI stage, benefiting from the outputs generated in
the previous stages of the BPM cycle. On the other
hand, we encounter difficulties due to common
factors when applying new dynamics with
heterogeneous groups in interests and levels of
power. As main lessons learned and guidelines, we
highlight the following:
Simplification of the initial steps: The Empathize
and Define steps could be executed quickly and
objectively since both the potential participants and
the information about the As-Is process were already
mapped. Thus, the Boomerang Methodology's initial
stage can be simplified when adopted in a large
project as part of a BPM cycle.
Number of challenges for the Ideate stage: An
aspect identified in the Define stage was related to the
number of possible obstacles to be proposed. Ten
specific problems had already been detected in the
As-Is process. Still, as there was not enough time to
apply the dynamics aimed at all of them, the BPMO
team needed to abstract the problems according to the
process phases, and, therefore, some possible
emphases could not be taken advantage of. This
situation indicated that an analysis of the BPMO is
necessary during the planning of the BPI workshop,
sizing the workshop based on the perspectives of
quantity and complexity of the challenges and time
control. Depending on the case, more than one
workshop may be necessary to meet the desired
objectives without compromising the involvement
and motivation of participants.
Coordination of the game: It is important to
highlight two other aspects of this phase. The first
relates to redundant ideas of possible solutions for
each challenge since the groups developed solution
ideas simultaneously and without knowing the other
teams' ideas. In the case of redundant ideas, consider
the score for all groups involved. The second aspect
concerns care with the voting system. The original
system proposed by the Boomerang Methodology is
based on coins and (tangible) paper. In the case study,
an electronic system was adopted, and some
participants who did not know how to use the voting
tool correctly voted for ideas that had not yet been
presented, causing the system to be restarted a few
times and causing a waste of time.
Process prototype: a lesson learned in the
Prototype stage was the application of BPM notation
to model the new process based on the approved
solutions. As months have passed since the As-Is
process modelling event, many participants have
forgotten the BPMN notation. At the end of the event,
when there was not much more time available, the
facilitators had to act as process modelers. Therefore,
it is essential to highlight the BPM notation to
participants and display the As-Is models placed on
the walls.
Assessment of approved ideas: As BPMO carried
out the Testing stage based on all the information
collected in the workshop, some doubts arose in the
validation meeting, especially when the solution
presented involved redundant ideas with slight
differences between them. Even so, this mishap was
resolved through debate and voting. In the end, there
was consensus on applying the approved solutions in
the new To-Be process.
In large, highly hierarchical organizations, it becomes
a significant challenge to objectively improve a
business process in a participatory and creative way.
The challenges are even more significant when these
processes are human-centred and knowledge-
intensive in a traditional organizational structure,
dependent on different interests and power levels. In
this scenario, BPI approaches based on Design
Thinking and engagement strategies, such as
gamification, can involve and motivate different
professionals and perspectives with a business
process and its needs, developing a cross-functional
vision of the BPM organization and culture. The case
Business Process Improvements in Hierarchical Organizations: A Case Study Focusing on Collaboration and Creativity
study and evaluations indicated that the main
objective was achieved. As a result, a new business
process was implemented in the organization, and the
Boomerang methodology was incorporated into the
BPMO methodology.
In future works, new BPM projects will be
initiated in this organization, considering the lessons
and recommendations learned in this study for BPI
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