Stiff Upper management (The process)
It’s strange how when a company grows, it suddenly fills up with people not really doing anything. So called management. I mean sure, they’re doing SOMETHING. But they’re not creating. They’re not producing.
No wait, that’s not right either. They’re producing stuff like policies. Processes. Rules. Sometimes they’re even yelling and pointing fingers. I’m one of them management types. That is, I try not to point fingers too much, but I’m quite keen on the rest of it. Well, I’m actually mostly a process guy. I happen to think they are quite useful. Rules on the other hand, that sounds a bit harsh, doesn’t it? And what does a policy really tell you, when you get down to it?
Our policy is to have policies
A policy is some kind of general principle that the employees and / or company commits to. “Never say no to a customer.” “You must change your password twice a month”. “In order to protect the environment, you are not allowed to print emails.” Stuff like that. If you are really lucky, you’re in a company where policies are defined as the stuff your boss rants about before they give you access to the alcohol at the Christmas party. He’ll say something like “From now on, everyone must work smarter!” and you will go “What does that even mean?”
To be fair, having sound policies like “Don’t share company secrets on Facebook” and “Don’t say bad things about our customers, at least not in public” is probably a good thing. But they seldom tell you exactly what to do in any given situation.
The beauty of the Process
A process is a documentation of the best known way to solve a given problem or situation. “Best known way” is the key part. That means every time the road changes, the old process no longer applies. The process must be changed with it. It also means that every time someone figures out a better way to do something, the process must reflect it. Implementing a process for the first time doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change much, or even anything at all. The process is there to document how something is done. And how it’s done right. How to update a server. How to service a car.
What’s the point of that, if you’re already doing it? Well, if you got more than one person performing any given action, it’s very likely that there are as many variations on execution as there are persons. A documented process improves the chance that more than one person is performing the action in an optimal fashion (according to the process).
Simply writing down the process the first time, will probably trigger someone going “Hey, that’s not how I’m doing it!” – and you’ll discover that four out of five guys where doing it wrong. If it’s a complicated task, the process will also help people so they don’t forget any vital part of it.
Last but not least, documenting a process is the first step towards improving it. Which is another subject, for another post (or series of posts). So I guess that’s a cue for me to stop writing, for now.