“Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” — Charles Mingus
At my last house, we decided to put in a fence between our yard and our neighbor’s. We lived in the city where everyone had small back yards with no discernible gap between them. We discussed it with our neighbors, and they thought it was a good idea.
We were both concerned that it would make our already small yards smaller. The surprise for both of us was that our respective yards got bigger! Before the fence, we were both staying clear of about four feet of either side of the property line. With the fence, we both gained that unclaimed space.
The creativity to play with our yard was unleashed. We were able to grow many more flowers and vegetables.
I have worked with many organizations that have successfully grown organically over the years without formal processes. However, once they grew to a point where the work and the organization became more complex, productivity dipped, and successful results became less consistent.
People feared formalizing processes because they would hinder creativity. It would slow them down. Just as we did, they thought it would make their “yards” smaller.
In complex work, a straightforward process provides benefits similar to our fence. Here are five benefits of a good process. If you are not getting these benefits, it is not a good process.
The process is awesomely simple. The best processes appear so simple they are immediately understandable. It takes work to get there, and it is worth it.
Things are not forgotten. When working with many people or work involving multiple steps, it is easy for something to be missed. A good process provides clear guidance for getting things done and ways to ensure they have been done well.
New people can be productive quickly. Newcomers often struggle when joining an organic, informal organization. A well-developed process enables new people to contribute to the organization’s creative work quickly.
Results can be measured. A good process enables the measurement of the work. This is an excellent benefit because everyone can better understand the work and how it contributes to the business outcomes desired.
A good process will adapt and change. Ultimately a good process is never a static process. It is practical, used, and improved. The process owners can prove that it has improved because a good process enables measurement of results and improvement over time.
One last note. We put a gate in our fence so we could easily go between our yard and our neighbor’s. Although good fences might make good neighbors, we found that shared cookouts make great neighbors. Whether you are working with fences or creating processes, the people using them are the most important part of the equation.
Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,