I was recently working with a group of talented people who lacked process. They were, what I like to call, rammy. They went along, ramming their way through the day until the achieved their objective. Day after day (then eventually, night after night), they went right along ramming through obstacles, ramming through work, until eventually they would complete a project, or part of a project.
The characteristics of ramming through your day consist of the following:
> completing a task without considering the other components of the project
> ignoring dependencies that would allow for efficiency
> paying little attention to the work of others around you
> ending your day completely exhausted and deflated
Think of a race horse with blinders on running full speed straight into a wall. This is how you ram through your day.
The key thing to note here is that this group of rammy people worked with absolutely no process at all. There were no consistent team communication channels, they worked in different ways toward the same goal, and they had no mechanism for course-correction.
My goal was to help them with the process part. I love processes! They make everyone’s lives easier, they make outputs better, and they give me an overall sense of satisfaction when I can see something working efficiently and as it should. This particular group seemed open to the glory of process, but when shit hit the fan and the work got intense, even my most simple processes fell apart.
I wasn’t happy about this. I had seen how effective a good, simple process could be with this group, and when process should have saved them, it failed.
I really beat myself up about this situation for a while. Then I realized something – even the best processes will fail when the culture of the team using them doesn’t support it.
Culture is key here. A team must be open and willing to adopt processes, without exception, for them to work. The success of any process is dependent on 100% of the team adopting it.
This doesn’t mean that process binds them- a good process can flex and grow as needed. But, for a process to work, people need to use it. All people, all the time.
That’s where I hit a roadblock I no control over, and that’s why the work I did for this team was unsuccessful.
I read a book today called The Difference by Subir Chowdhury. He has a set of principles called STAR and he uses them to help teams develop a caring mindset. I think teams who have this mindset have the most success with process implementation.
STAR is as follows (with my interpretation of their general meanings):
> Be Straightforward – say what you mean, in the moment.
> Be Thoughtful – don’t be a jerk.
> Be Accountable – own what you do, good or bad.
> Have Resolve – have passion for what you do and a willingness to change.
Rammy people do not follow these principles. In fact they tend to ignore them outright, and so the benefits of process will never be theirs.
You can read Subir’s booked yourself to dive into the details of his STAR Principles
. And if you’re developing new processes in your own company, I hope you do. Otherwise, your work may end up like mine did.