It's about the journey, not the destination
The mantra of many a slacker, the above statement is more true than you'd think. Achieving your goals is an important, but it can never happen if you don't know what way to go. The same applies in business, they will remain out of reach without effective workplace processes. You need to know which way to go to achieve your ambitions.
A pure focus on outcomes might be business 101, but it makes for inconsistent results. However, focussing on workplace processes and being conscious of them produces excellent results every time.
Focus, process and results
This is not to say outcome is irrelevant – you need to know where you're headed, after all – but by getting the process right, the desired outcome will follow. It also makes your workplace processes more worthwhile, making the journey to your goals more rewarding.
While it does require some investment of time and effort. You must figure out your processes for each task. If you do it will produce worthwhile benefits in the long run:
- You can figure out what works for your business. Processes are measurable and repeatable. So, take what works and run with it. If a result is bad, you can adapt to improve the outcome. A focus on workplace processes encourages experimentation and innovation.
- It allows you to focus on what's important. If you have well constructed processes, you don't need to worry about how to do things. You can focus on the more profitable aspects of your work.
- It makes you more productive. A fixation on destination without a clear pathway to get there can cause your mind to wander. With a process to follow, the next step towards your goal is always clear. No more wasting time with procrastination.
- It helps with employee on-boarding. If you need to train a colleague or new hire, you can use your processes to give them a rough guideline for their work. They can then adapt and build on them, meaning they hit the ground running.
- With process you can also more accurately value and organise your time. If you know the steps, you know roughly how long the task will take and you can more effectively structure your day.
The Goldilocks principle of process
This is not to say, that you should become complacent. Just because you have produced a perfect set of processes doesn't mean that you should follow them blindly. Workplace processes should never become dogmatic, they can always be better. If you or a colleague find a better way or better tool to do something, experiment with it and see if it's more effective.
Equally, you don't want to produce unnecessary bureaucracy. Too much process stifles creativity and productivity, but just the right amount can streamline work and act as a real competitive advantage. And, as we've said before, process shouldn't be imposed; it should be created collaboratively. Process should empower and encourage, not imprison.
Focus on just the outcome and you'll occasionally achieve excellence. But, focus on the process and you'll consistently create great results.
[Note: this blog post was originally published in February 2014 but we have since updated it with new content]