Monday, May 29, 2006

Is process really so scary?

I do an awful lot of diagramming when I’m talking to people trying to figure out the underlying process — many times just seeing the bare bones of a process can aid in understanding.  Lots of people seem to fear process, especially if a process is clearly defined and modeled.  The simple fact of the matter is that there is a fine balance between process and innovation.  For example, if you worked at a very innovative, unstructured company, wouldn’t you want the payroll process to be careful modeled and followed so that you received a paycheck every 2 weeks?

Seth Godin shares my views on process:

Process, on the other hand, appears to be for Dummies.

So we bristle when we're asked for our weekly goals sheets, or when the boss wants us to use a database or when the insurance company requires docs to follow data-driven guidelines. We pass up the tenth novel by a successful author... because the process has become too transparent.

And yet, in many cases, process is underrated.

Process is your ace in the hole when your intuition stops working.

If process makes you nervous, it's probably because it threatens your reliance on intuition. Get over it. The best processes leverage your intuition and give it room to thrive.

Please don’t confuse process with rules and corporate mandates even though both of those things may have some small amount to do with process formulation.  Remember that, as I said in the first paragraph in this post, there is a fine line between overprocessing and overinuiting (not sure if that’s really a word) — read the last paragraph that I quoted above from Seth again every time you create process.


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