When is a process not a process?


I can see eyes rolling because for most — system…review…policy…PROCESS…this is akin to saying:


  • “This will take at least another month or two”
  • “This will take more resources than just ‘you.’”
  • “You will need to spend a good deal of your time entering things into a computer, completing established forms that require training, tracking, explaining.”
  • “Is it worth it?”

Having developed and initiated processes while working both in-house and as a consultant, my mantra has always been that the process should facilitate getting something done. From my perspective, never develop a process to track the material or maintain control of something – a process should have at its core a primary focus on enabling the “it” to be used as quickly and effectively as possible.

So what tenets do I follow?

  • What is the actual need? Truly understand what the issues are and what ultimately the need is – again, it’s not to track or to maintain control.
  • Understand all viewpoints: Listening and hearing peoples’ perspectives and frustrations is key to helping develop a valuable process

    I developed one process for communications surrounding launching new medicines in which I interviewed approximately 50 people – from commercial to R&D to communications to regulatory and beyond. Sometimes it takes that much to boil things down.

  • Leverage ‘organic’ systems: For example, a process should leverage existing systems, reporting structures, etc., so that the natural information flow can be used.
  • Keep it simple: With the existing crunch of personnel – there are fewer “traffic” cops or people whose job it is to strictly manage a process. Therefore, your client (communications, researcher, commercial) is probably the person managing the system.  I hate to say it but Keep It Simple.  If specific training is needed to manage a system – keep it simple

At the end, you want the process to be valuable to the people using it. Most people don’t join a company because they love processes but because they enjoy the end result and work. The process should be like a stapler – it just puts everything together before it goes out of the office.