Are We Managing the Process or the Outcome?


I was listening to a debate recently on TV and a keynote speaker was saying that one of the most critically important factors for any business to succeed was to have strict processes, and then ensure that staff followed them to the letter. The speaker went on to say that it was very important to hire staff that could think for themselves!

I nearly jumped at the television! Nobody contradicted what he said - this guy wanted to hire people who followed process unquestioningly, and also would think for themselves. That is like saying - let’s hire people who are simultaneously an optimist and a pessimist!

Now I am all for process - we need it to establish how to get things done, and to show others how to do the same. But, the process is not the God. The outcome is what matters most.

If, as my friend earlier counseled, we insist that those who are fulfilling the process simply adhere to it, without challenge, then where will the improvement come from?

Toyota is brilliant at this. The output is specified but all staff are expected to continuously make suggestions to improve the process. Who better to make improvement than those who use it every day?

I agree with my debating friend who said that we want to hire people who can think for themselves. But if you want people not to question your process, then they will not fit!

Independent thinkers are highly valuable and when these people find organizations that allow them express themselves, the business - and their clients - benefit hugely.

You see research done by PWC recently with millennials in the workforce clearly found that what they seek and value most in a role is, firstly, growth and secondly, development. 

Interestingly, money was third!

Growth will only occur where there is the chance to express themselves and make a difference - we all cherish being significant!

But, you know, maybe there is a little bit of that maddening debater in us all. Have we sometimes complained when someone did something that was outside the process - before we examined the result? I know I have done so in the past.

So, think about the culture in your business and your team - do your people feel they can really challenge the processes laid down, or is there an element of the “sacred cow” about them?

John A Murphy Winning at Business and Life


John Murphy has been running his own consultancy business, John Murphy International, for over 10 years.

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