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Don’t let process be the enemy of progress

I was checking my calendar only to realise we had 4 different group calendars had to invite. To book my annual leave, I had to coordinate between 3 different individuals. And trying to confirm something for an invoice took almost a month. 

And now, I was in a meeting, to debate how many meetings we were having and how to put in place processes to control processes. 

I’m an Ops guy, its in my nature to think about things in sequential cause-effect kind of way, and I get stressed and frustrated by unpredictability, variables out of my control and inconsistency. So its reflexive for me to look at a problem and sequence out the steps in a flow to solving the problem.

When I was younger and a lot less experienced at driving policy and process for organisations, I’d come of with these fantastical processes that were deep and complex, but that actually turned out to be a problem. 

Processes are only as good as the adherence to the process, meaning that you could have the most extensive and thorough process that accounts for a multitude of eventualities, but if no one follows it, all that effort is wasted.

It makes sense that we should strive to make processes that are as simple as possible, the goal isn’t to make everyone happy, the goal is efficiency and delivery on an objective, and ultimately we’re striving to ensure people follow what we deploy and don’t resist any new processes. 

If our processes are too complex, people will simply ignore it. Or, if you force them under duress, they’ll start to cut corners or other work will suffer. The worst case is a process that’s should clunky that you need a process and people to manage the process… defeating the purpose of a process in the first place.

I like tools like PAS, or get/want/can, or RACI – and most is to do with how simple and easy to apply these tools are, minimum effort and the results are generally consistent, they aren’t perfect, but they are easy to learn, teach and implement. 


So as you develop your own processes, bear in mind that the process needs to be simple enough that people will actually be wiling to use it, and that it doesn’t get in the way of the organisation making meaningful progress.

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