When we first talk with people about applying process management, they often think rigid processes or bureaucracy. People also can show countless examples of process gone wrong. My friend Allan Hauge, Vistage Chair in St. Louis, tipped me off to this article, which includes a stunningly great example of process gone wrong from a CEO who is a process fanatic.
In the article the CEO notes the biggest PR fail he has ever seen (and I would agree) caused by rigid adherence to a process. Every process is perfectly constructed to produce the results it does and that one was no exception.
To really be good at process management and the effective usage of process to accelerate the value of your business, you must realize that all processes must have some degree of flexibility built in because the world is a frenetic place. However, if you put too much flexibility into a process it will be unnecessarily expensive to run because the humans or equipment required to run it will be overly expensive. Like buying a precision cutting machine to make cuts that can be plus or minus 1/2″ with no loss of performance. Or hiring a PhD as your barista and paying him/her a PhD salary.
Conversely, allowing too little flexibility in your process results in the epic PR fail described in the article. However, the CEO notes how, in his own company, he either invested in flexibility or got lucky based on the story he tells about his own company.
Bottom line is that process management and process driven companies work better and gain a competitive advantage. If the processes used are designed with the Goldilocks amount of flexibility: not too much and not too little, but “just right.” Not easy, but then who ever said management was easy.