The Death of Peter Fingar

It is with sadness that BPTrends notes the passing of Peter Fingar, a thinker, writer and consultant who contributed greatly to today's Business Process Management scene.

For most of us, Peter first came to our attention when he co-authored Business Process Management: The Third Wave, in 2003, with Howard Smith. In fact Peter had been around for quite some time, writing on computer technologies and business management, speaking, and teaching courses at various universities.

I have commented several times on how the interest in business process improvement has waxed and waned over the decades. In the Early Eighties there was Rummler-Brache and Six Sigma. For awhile there were lots of conferences and articles, and then the enthusiasm died down. Then, in the Early-Nineties everyone became excited about Business Process ReEngineering (BPR). For a while everyone worked to use IT to create major new business processes that would replace the cow paths created by earlier rounds of automation. BPR was in decline by the end of the Nineties.

Early in this millennium, the Internet and XML created a new IT environment that opened the possibility of software-based process flow tools that could help managers design and generate the code for applications that could manage business processes. Business Process Management, by Howard Smith and Peter Fingar, explained the new technological possibilities and revived the excitement associated with process work. Once again there were exciting Business Process Management conferences, new software tools and a wide variety of articles on new possibilities, and exciting projects. The BPMI organization was formed and created a new process modeling language. People got excited about the possibilities!

I first met Peter Fingar at the Disneyland Hotel in Orlando Florida in 2004. Peter and Howard were right in the middle of all the BPM excitement manifesting itself at that early BPM Conference. From day one, I always enjoyed Peter. He was an entrepreneur and a visionary and he was always bubbling with new ideas.

Peter realized early on, for example, that the conventional publishing model was dead, and he figured out how to create his own publishing house, the Meghan-Kiffer Press. He not only published the BPM book that he and Howard wrote, but went on to publish a couple of dozen other business process books in the next few years, including a book I co-edited with Roger Tregear, Questioning BPM? Indeed, it's fair to say that Peter Fingar was the publisher of record for most of the leading business process books published in the last 20 years. Peter always recognized me as the editor of Business Process Trends, a source of promotion, and he was always ready to sit down with me and pitch his latest vision, to urge me to talk to his latest book's author, and to provide some promotion for the new books he was developing on the new topic.

Peter Fingar was a popular keynote speaker and loved to communicate new ideas to process audiences. His presentations were always powerful – he was way ahead of his time in the use of video and graphics to create dynamic presentation that had a real impact on his audiences.

Over the years I had wonderful conversations with Peter about new technologies he was investigating to give a video presentation in London or a talk in Tokyo. He was always ready to share what he'd learned about new ways of presenting information that he thought were about to become popular. Anyone who has attended one of his presentations remembers that they were almost always extraordinary.

For several years Peter Fingar was a columnist for www.bptrends.com and he went beyond that and wrote several articles for us, often with the elaborate graphics that he loved to use. I understand that Peter wrote or co-wrote some 26 books, and he certainly wrote many more articles.

Recently, Peter realized that process improvement was in another of its slow periods, and he moved on, as several others have done, to digital transformation, cognitive computing, and the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enhance business effectiveness. His recent book on Cognitive Computing (published by Meghan-Kiffer Press, of course) was one of the books that helped create a lot of interest in this exciting new field. Peter went on from the book to work with Lisa Wood to create a website, cognitiveworld.com for discussions and articles about the latest developments in that field.

For all his enthusiasm for communication, Peter was, in some ways, a rather private person. I understand he leaves behind a wife, daughter, son, and granddaughters, as well as nieces and nephews who I never knew of. Nor did I know that he was ill until he had already died.

Those of us working in business process management will miss Peter Finger and his many contributions.

Notes: For more on Peter, you might want to check his website and watch one of the videos of one of his presentations, if you can find it: https://www.peterfingar.com/

Paul Harmon

Paul Harmon

Executive Editor and Founder, Business Process Trends In addition to his role as Executive Editor and Founder of Business Process Trends, Paul Harmon is Chief Consultant and Founder of BPTrends Associates, a professional services company providing educational and consulting services to managers interested in understanding and implementing business process change. Paul is a noted consultant, author and analyst concerned with applying new technologies to real-world business problems. He is the author of Business Process Change: A Manager's Guide to Improving, Redesigning, and Automating Processes (2003). He has previously co-authored Developing E-business Systems and Architectures (2001), Understanding UML (1998), and Intelligent Software Systems Development (1993). Mr. Harmon has served as a senior consultant and head of Cutter Consortium's Distributed Architecture practice. Between 1985 and 2000 Mr. Harmon wrote Cutter newsletters, including Expert Systems Strategies, CASE Strategies, and Component Development Strategies. Paul has worked on major process redesign projects with Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Security Pacific, Prudential, and Citibank, among others. He is a member of ISPI and a Certified Performance Technologist. Paul is a widely respected keynote speaker and has developed and delivered workshops and seminars on a wide variety of topics to conferences and major corporations through out the world. Paul lives in Las Vegas. Paul can be reached at pharmon@bptrends.com
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