Most businesses I come across, especially in the SME world, are either trying hard to get a bunch of processes in place or are living in shame because they’re not!
And the ones trying to get processes in place, for a variety of avoidable reasons are usually doing so without great or sustained success.
There are a ton of sources, aimed especially at SMEs, advocating the need to get processes in place. I enjoyed Sam Carpenter’s Work the System. Along with The E-myth, it creates a compelling case for proceduralising what your business does.
But the key justification I hear leaders (and authors) cite for process is that it replaces the need to have great people. “If we have great processes” the logic goes, “we can create quality work without having to hire expensive people”.
Dangerous path. If you’re in a commodity world, where much of what you do doesn’t depend on people being able to think effectively on their feet, or on them genuinely caring about what they do, then perhaps the logic works.
But if you’re in a business where your clients value and can tell if a service or product is delivered with care and attention (meaning EVERY service business, and most product ones), then quality people will out-deliver quality processes.
Don’t ignore process – it is essential. But don’t view it as a replacement for having great people. And if I had to choose (which no one should) I’d focus harder on getting great people than great processes.
Then maybe ask those great people to create those processes.
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