Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Process is not a four letter word.

In the popular cult favorite, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by the late Douglas Adams, Vogons are creatures described as "extremely ugly, extremely officious, and generally not much fun to be around... only their stubbornness allowed them to survive. They generally become bureaucrats in the galactic government and their unpleasant demeanour makes them ideally suited to such employment".

Now there's an unappealing profile that you won't find in any Myers-Briggs personality profile, however this caricature rings true due to our generally accepted opposition to useless red tape.

I'll admit that as much as I oppose useless red tape, I am a fan of process. But only those processes that are designed to expedite, measure, and improve actions, not slow and needlessly monitor and approve actions. Too often extremes are found in corporate America - either too many controls, or in order to avoid such lumbering processes, too few. The former processes result in disengaged employees and an organization unable to change quickly; the latter, an organization lacking common understanding and duplicating or negating efforts of others.

Processes are not poison. They simply need to be developed and followed in a way that keeps the end goal in mind, be it customer satisfaction, margin support, or new product development. Processes are meant to free people to do their jobs make decisions and act quickly, not constrain their ability to contribute.

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