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We do it for the result, not the process.

by @ 11:34 am on 5/29/2017. Filed under general

Last Friday I wrote the email below and sent it to the Directory Services team (which I am the Technical Expert for). I have received some very positive feedback so I thought I would share the verbiage here as well because this really applies to every medium to senior level person in the business and if you are a low level person in the business it is something you should keep in mind as well. Also if you haven’t read the Amazon Letter to the ShareHolders referenced, please do yourself a favor and read that as well.

==

From: Joe Richards
Sent: Friday, May 26, 2017 6:14 PM
Subject: We do it for the result, not the process.

I wanted to send out an email to the team calling out the signature I have had on my emails for a while.

This text came as a warning from the CEO of a competitor and it is very sage advice. It is important information for this team to keep at the top of our minds at all times. Even though this was only recently published by our competitor this basic concept was taught to me in the late 90’s and has been a fundamental underlying mindset of nearly every team I have had any input into and has worked very well.

Good process serves you so you can serve customers. But if you’re not watchful, the process can become the thing. This can happen very easily in large organizations. The process becomes the proxy for the result you want. You stop looking at outcomes and just make sure you’re doing the process right.[1]

We care about the outcomes, not whether or not we followed process properly because our deliverable isn’t the process, our deliverable is the result we are trying to achieve when we are following the process. What matters are the outcomes. This aligns with the old joke, “The operation was a success but the patient died”. We have and build processes to make it more likely we will get to successful correct outcomes. We OWN the process, if we don’t get the right outcome, we OWN the resulting failure. When we fail, we take that failure and analyze it with an eye to fix the process to prevent future failure.

By now you have probably heard me say several times, “Does this step add value to the process?” or “Does this process add value to what we are doing?” as well as “Question everything.” If something isn’t adding value or worse, puts us in a position to fail, it must be questioned and, if not removed outright, corrected to make sure it gives us the needed value and allows a successful result.

This isn’t cart blanche to throw out all process but it is a responsibility on each of our parts to question process and try to correct it in a feasible manner that leads us to the correct result.  Even if we are in the middle of some process and we see a potential bad result coming, if we have time and/or the potential badness outweighs moving forward we stop and figure it out or we get clarification before proceeding. Anytime something doesn’t feel right, question it.

We are professionals. We own a service and the processes around it. Process is only a tool to help guide us in the correct direction to do the right thing and we have to be aware enough of and understanding enough of what it is that we are doing and do everything with great purpose such that we can see when the process is failing us and correct it. If we have a failure, our answer should not be, “We followed the process.” It should be “Yes, we failed, we will correct things so it doesn’t happen again.” We are professionals.

    joe

[1] The whole letter to the Amazon shareholders from which this snippet was pulled can be found at https://www.amazon.com/p/feature/z6o9g6sysxur57t and is a great read.

Good process serves you so you can serve customers. But if you’re not watchful, the process can become the thing. This can happen very easily in large organizations. The process becomes the proxy for the result you want. You stop looking at outcomes and just make sure you’re doing the process right.

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