The idea of implementing a process is one that should provide insight and guidance. Yet, I find myself conflicted when I think about the idea of putting them together. Not because they lack value, but because I know that their intentions will be lost over time, and they’ll inevitably be leveraged as a crutch and seen as an absolute.
This bring about a fear within me around the idea of processes. There is no denying their effectiveness, but you also can’t deny their ineffective attributes; like their affects on the innovative qualities your team sometimes requires. Granted, there are obvious situations in which you require them.
Processes in Your Business
Starting your company is always a giant cluster and processes are the least of your concerns. I think it’s human nature, when we feel uncomfortable in a situation however, to quickly respond to it with a control we feel at ease with, something that gives us security. I believe processes to do this for us, and why it’s the default so many turn to when in similar situations.
I personally like to experience the pain a few times before I venture into the world of a possible process, and my reasoning is simple. The odds of me getting it right the first time are slim to none, I just need a few more experiences to figure out other ways to approach it. If I find that the response is always consistent, then so it becomes a process.
Granted, when you’re a team of 3, there is little need for processes. Everyone just seems to know what to do. As you grow however, you begin to feel the pressures of the lack of processes. You forget what it is not to know, and just assume every one knows. That lack of insight brings about a feeling of instability within the team, your people. And so, processes arguably provide us the foundation we require to scale.
The Value of Processes
My conflict with processes is by no means its value. Its value is obvious. My issue comes in the fact that the intentions in their creation rarely aligned with how they are interpreted.
Why did you do it like this?
That’s what the processes said to do.
Depending on your business, you some times require flexibility in your approach. Sometimes it’s about context, and processes can severely restrict this concept.
Think to yourself, when was the last time you actually read all the processes your organization had in place? How many times, have they actually worked? How many times have you been frustrated because they were out of date? I’d argue that many find yourself with that look on your face of, “crap, he’s got a point…”
We must remember that the real value comes, not in the development of processes. No, the real value comes in the mindset you create amongst your people on how to interpret and apply them.
Business Processes Should Guide, Not Dictate
Processes should not dictate or restrict, unless they need to. Yes, there may be instances where it’s required. They should however, serve as guidelines that encourage us to be free thinking, adaptive and responsive to our environments. Especially in young businesses where your success depends on the creativity and flexibility of your team. If your business requires human interaction, then by nature we must be as fluid as those we serve.
Examples of where stringent processes might exist, include areas like administration or human resources, where things have to be done certain ways for a variety of reasons. Areas where they might not be so much, are areas like sales, marketing, development, and even support. Complex, stringent, processes in those latter domains can be suffocating and render unfavorable results in many instances.
We must focus on the most challenging aspect of any business, our people. We must focus on building an environment where they can understand the value in their own approaches, and that we don’t live in a world of absolutes. Being able to decipher good decisions, from bad is critical to the success of not only the company or those we serve, but themselves as individuals.