Process has its place but not when it inhibits progress.
Sivan Hermon had more awards than years of service under her belt at Google. A decade of consistently rising stardom, endless recognition from above, below and across the industry, her impact was awarded publicly time and time again followed by resplendent Googler career progression. Then in an abrupt a case of wrong place, wrong time she woke up one jolty morning this year to find herself unemployed. (Read her full story here.)
Now, I’m all for procedures and order and process to stabilise organisations (and personal lives actually, read on please…), but when process trips companies into making stupid decisions it’s galling.
Sivan was asked to build and run an innovation team for Google which was shut down 8 weeks later with economic reasons blamed. Yup, this climate is tough and destabilising for us all, but instead of moving this trusted employee elsewhere into the business, instead of retaining such acknowledged top talent, the process said no, sorry, nada, farewell, shrug emoji. So, out of the door slid a valuable asset with no way to subjugate the process to ensure the right and better thing happened. Google lost out, Sivan lost out, but a corporate tick box exercise was diligently completed.
Isn’t this a depressingly all-too-frequently-seen case of another business behemoth tripping over itself unnecessarily (think of the knots the BBC (wokedom) and our own government (pandemic policies, etc) tie themselves up in pointlessly too)? Is it actually the sorry case that bureaucracy here is inhibiting the agility and adaptability we’ve all been shouting about as essential for today’s modern work worlds?
Surely process and bureaucracy have no place if they THWART progress? Isn’t the reason for process to ENABLE process?
Let’s look at this through our personal lenses.
I single parent 4 children, work full time for Publicis, write, coach and run a location business. The only way I can flourish, and happily flourish at that, is through process. I have to run a tight ship in every aspect of my life to ensure my time and energy are abundant and maximised. Without process time and energy would become a struggle, overwhelm and burnout would hit and this ship would sink.
The processes I put in place focus on delegating anything and everything which is not my forte nor passion and optimising my own self. These processes however are constantly evolving and being adapted based on circumstances.
- The Process of Delegation
I am good at my job, at writing, at parenting, at organising and planning generally.
I enjoy dog walking, exercising, wall art, photography, juicing, snuggling and so on.
I am not good at, and generally do not enjoy, cooking, cleaning, gardening, food shopping, bed-making, ironing, lawn-mowing, car servicing, furniture assembly, clothes shopping, ripped-hood-off-school-coat-sewing-back-on, etc.
The things I am good at and the things that I enjoy are the things I choose to fill my life with in abundance. The things I am not good at and don’t enjoy I try to shrink or reframe or delegate entirely. Let me demonstrate…
I’m privileged to have a cleaner who loves ironing, and a gardener who happily helps with DIY. DELEGATE.
Modern times mean I can automate the food shop (although Sainsubry’s were 2 hours late last night so they’re off my Xmas card list), and even get the school uniform via Amazon’s one-click. SHRINK.
I’ve now taught the children to cook so my remit has dwindled to simply stocking the fridge as they are now individually empowered to make and consume themselves (but yes I still cook a roast every Sunday and relish the family together time for at least one meal per week #defensiveiamstillagoodmotherpleasedon’tjudgemenote). SHRINK.
Next on my household efficiency mission is training the twins to do their own laundry. DELEGATE.
Of course, occasionally I come home from business trips abroad to find the teenagers have forgotten we own a dishwasher and that we need clean utensils now and then and maybe we don’t want rats to move in, so have the odd 11pm kitchen battle, but after the entitled rant and threats I pop my headphones on, immerse into my book and listen and learn whilst reclaiming the kitchen. REFRAME.
I use a virtual assistant to run my location business. DELEGATE.
What all this process means is that I have space to focus on the aspects of life that chime with my values. Creative time, family together time, work time. My leisure time skews away from monotonous domesticity every second I’m away from the office to space rich in quality time on my terms.
This is all by design. I have ‘processed’ my life to enable it to run my way with the right support system around me. The process involves that food delivery on Monday, cleaner Tuesday, gardener bi-monthly, daily kitchen cleaning rotation per me/child, etc. If I see an unusually intensive work period looming ahead I increase the support so I can focus where I’m most needed – school run taxis, more domestic help and so on. I process my way through the priorities with rigour and adapt the processes to suit evolving needs.
- The Process of Optimising Myself
To perform at a healthy and consistent level of productive output I need and choose good sleep, daily exercise, breaks in Nature, excellent nutrition and to ground myself regularly out of the flurry. These are my No Room For Compromise life mandatories.
And thus, processes have evolved over the years to a now automatic way of being that is now my (current) norm.
I need and choose fast nutrition so I have a Nutribullet and food orders include all the blendable ingredients. Weekends are for the messy, more complex juices.
I need and choose my 5k runs so have a treadmill in my garage and automatically wake, walk downstairs and run on autopilot.
I need and choose quality sleep so have optimised my bedroom and habits accordingly. No more caffeine, the finest sheets, topper and duvet I could afford in the January sales and black out curtains for the first time in my life (oh it was a sad farewell bidding those Sanderson-esque organza swathes goodbye, but sleep is a priority now – my big 2023 personal KPI in fact).
When I commute into the office I need to find an extra 4 hours per day. Adding in gym time would be a challenge so my reframe is to blend exercise with the commute itself. I deliberately choose the route which offers the maximum amount of walking so despite a non-exercise day my iphone reports that I still generally walk around 3 miles which ticks my 5k box neatly.
Do you see how I have created a range of processes to allow myself to thrive? And indeed how I constantly evaluate and adjust these processes to suit my life circumstances and demands. The key here is that process can be a total gift when harnessed intelligently and optimally, but to lock in process for processes sake is counter-productive.
The businesses and people today who are succeeding are experts at adapting. How can you adapt your personal and your business processes to optimise things today? Does change need to be made? Are you stuck in ruts which no longer serve you or your company?
This Google example is a stark reminder of why its definitely worth taking a deep look at the role of processes in your immediate orbit. The basic question – “Does this facilitate progress?”.
This article was written from the heart with the hope it helps you flourish. Let me know your thoughts any time and please subscribe and share if it resonates.