Our lives, whether we realize it or not, are governed by processes.
Some of them are implicit (e.g.: brushing your teeth after eating candy, or taking a shower after going to the gym), and other ones are explicit (e.g.: pilots’ procedures before take off or landing, doctors’ check list before performing surgery on a patient).
Processes can also be great at helping us get a set of individuals and actions organized towards achieving a desired outcome.
Processes have multiple advantages. Some of them are:
- By writing down and/or codifying how to do something, you reduce the cognitive load (i.e.: depend less on memory, which is fallible)
- Having a defined set of steps helps assure the chances of repeatable success (e.g.: if you always follow the brownie’s recipe as it’s written down, then there should be consistency in their quality)
- It allows you to scale activities. You can deploy one single process across multiple individuals and/or groups and help assure consistency and standardization
Unfortunately, the word “process” seems to have an unjustified bad reputation. Any time someone in an organization brings up the idea of implementing a process what most people hear is: micromanagement, red tape, hurdles and bureaucracy.
And here’s the thing: processes don’t have to be long and/or complicated in order to be effective. In fact, the opposite is quite often more effective: short, simple and ephemeral.
Starting with overly complex and long processes may end up with the opposite intended result of what you are trying to achieve, and people may not follow them to the “T” — if they follow them at all.
To that end, a process should be:
- Focused around accomplishing a specific goal or outcome
- Defined and implemented by those doing the work
- As light and simple as possible — KISS or < is >
- Continuously improved
- Stopped when no longer helping the team make progress (i.e.: when it becomes an impediment and/or blocker (i.e.: bureaucracy) rather than an enabler)
Which process is used is not that important. Neither is following a particular methodology to the T.
The important thing is to have a process, with clear steps, to help codify how things get done, that is agreed on and followed by everyone impacted by the activity that the process seeks to improve. At the same time, team members should be empowered to terminate, enhance or modify the process when it no longer provides the desired results.
Incorrect processes kill team’s initiatives, creativity and autonomy. The right process empowers the team to define how things get done to achieve its goals and desired outcomes (do the right things and do them right).