The paradox of process

2020-07-27_improvement_cycleProcess is good. Process is important. Process keeps you from reinventing the wheel every time you complete a recurring task.

Without process, you run the risk (or, more accurately, the certainty!) of confusion. One client’s employer had no process for anything – proposals, contracts, customer interactions, project kick-off and closing – everything was ad-hoc, unnecessarily unclear, and fraught with misunderstandings. (Yes, she fixed it!)

BUT – and this is important – process should not be a straitjacket. 

When process becomes “this is how we’ve always done it,” you’ve got a different problem: inability to improve.

And when you confuse process and outcomes, you start sliding into failure.  “We followed the process! We did it the way we’ve always done it!” But what about the results?

Are you meeting goals? Are you achieving what you want to achieve? Could things be better? Should things be better?

It looks like a paradox, a contradiction in terms, but it’s not.

Stick to a process – and keep improving.

Follow the process – and evaluate it.

Add missing steps. Remove redundant or unnecessary steps. Explore efficiencies. Rearrange to streamline flow.

Observe. Tweak. Test.

Improvement seldom comes from a “big bang” change. Instead, improvement evolves incrementally.

Just don’t forget to communicate what you tweak, so everyone knows what’s happening.

Because in the end, that’s what process is for: consistency and efficiency for everyone involved.