Defend No Process – Defend the Mission Against Old Processes
Processes are a means to an end. The end is the accomplishment of your mission. If you find yourself defending a process just because it is “how we do things,” you have lost direction and may be inhibiting the accomplishment of your mission.
As a transformational leader, you should be ready to toss any process aside when evidence mounts that it now impedes the achievement of the mission.
Are you defending a process that may have passed its expiration date? Are you worried that the replacement being recommended is too risky? Is it safer to stick with what you know?
You may be right, but you have to have a solid rationale for keeping any process in place if there is any chance that a new way of working might offer more value (cost savings, higher productivity, et al.) Comfort with the current way of doing business cannot allow you to err on the side of the status quo. Comfort all by itself is not a business rationale!
Quality and quantity of output is the rationale that matters in a business that wants to survive and thrive. When NASA famously challenged itself to work with a “better, faster, cheaper” mindset, its goal was to shake up a staff that had gotten too set in its ways. The agency could see that a new era of lean budgets would not allow such a culture to survive and still achieve its mandated missions, so it separated goals from process and set out to find new development and execution processes that would better support leaner, more efficient paths to achievement.
Lean, Six Sigma and all the other “shake things up” exercises all challenge the status quo to find out what remains a good idea, and what needs adjustment or replacement.
As a leader in any organization, you need to come to work with that “shake it up” mindset every day, and you need to give your employees the latitude to approach their roles with the same mindset.
What is working well? Why is it working well? What within it is not working as well at it could? What ideas have people had to make that part work better? What resources are needed to test the new idea against our current way of doing business?
What is not working well? Why is it underperforming? What root causes can be exposed? Who has had ideas for improvement that have been shelved from a lack of attention or fear of the unknown?
Which new ideas should be explored first? Who should work on these ideas? What resources does this team need to properly explore and test the idea?
What is the marketplace telling us? Where must we be in two/three/five years? Can we predict what processes that seem to work today will hit their expiration date within one-five years? How should we be preparing for that future? How could we migrate today’s process to a new process that better meets our needs for accomplishing our mission?
Sitting still at home in evening is OK. You need to relax somewhere and let the world pass by for a few minutes. Sitting still at work is bad for business, and needs to be replaced with a bias towards aligned, passionate action!