To Process or Produce, That is the Question

I have tried to start this post no less than seven times already so instead of trying to come up with some round about catchy way of presenting my thoughts I am just going to lay it out there and see if it sticks.


The purpose of the title is to juxtapose these two areas in which I believe the first is increasingly getting in the way of the second. Not always, often. But here is what makes it so hard for me to take a position on what I state above. I can clearly see at least two sides of the issue, maybe more.


I think it is important to state here that I hate it (strong word but I am gonna use it) when people create an equivalency that is not equivalent. It would be appropriate to cite examples of what I mean here but I think the readership of this blog is intelligent enough to draw their own conclusions. Suffice it to say that even though I put process and produce in the same sentence, I do not necessarily take the position that they are equivalent.


What I also find frustrating is when an issue is presented or debated in mostly black and white contexts and the grey areas of the issue are ignored even when they overwhelmingly dictate the reasons for looking at the issue in black and white. Again I’m going to hold back from giving examples but if you really need to see this in action flip on any 24 hour news channel for about 3 minutes and you’ll get your aha moment. As it relates to this idea I am fully aware that some process makes production easier and that without any production - process would be meaningless.


Interestingly enough something that I really don’t hate or find frustrating is hypocrisy. Before you dismiss this after reading that sentence let me just say that any major source material on any subject presents viable and appropriate and acceptable ideas on more than one side of an issue. (Some might argue that “Thou shalt not kill” and “an eye for an eye” are not from the same source material or that their meaning is different, but that’s the grey area isn’t it?). My point here is that I may wind up contradicting myself and I am making an excuse for that to be okay.


Hopefully that offers enough context for the title of this post and I can now indulge in the reason I chose it. While you do not have to either Process or Produce (you can do both) those of us in the staffing industry seem to be in an environment where at times the process is getting in the way of our ability to produce. For example; larger corporations create umpteen PowerPoint presentations to demonstrate either what management wants to do differently, or how management is going to do things differently, or how management will measure when things are being done differently. But the only thing being done is process documentation, nothing is really getting DONE.


Better example but not a metaphor for our business; A parent asks a kid to take out the garbage. The kid can talk all about how they will take out the garbage when the time is right or how they will grab the bag, open the door, get to the can, open the lid, etc. But we all know that what we really care about is that the garbage gets taken out. Just do the job, don’t bog it down with too much process. Though on a side note garbage is in fact now getting over-processed between recycling, composting and true trash -but I digress.


What does this mean to us in our industry though? How are we to face the challenge of over-coming the over-processing? Many of us talk about how we have a unique process that enables us to do things better, faster, cheaper than our competitors. But at the end of the day we are all in fact measured on our ability to put a butt in the seat that will do something to fulfill a need or improve the business. We measure success on the doing, not on the process.


Flip-side – creating a coherent process that your client can understand or that your vendor can easily adapt to will make it easier to establish parameters to get to the end result more effectively, more quickly, with a higher degree of customer service and for their sake in a cost effective manner. But the real key here is that it really needs to be a coherent process (not necessarily ‘holistic’ as so many like to buzz). You can read that as “simple” if you want to and I won’t be offended. In truth it does have to be fairly simple. Not because we need simplicity in our business, but because we need to save the complexity for the actual work… the work we love to do. The work we get measured on.


KPIs are important, SLAs are important and everyone needs to know how to meet them and how to exceed them and what will happen if neither happens. But put too many steps or calculation or requirements in those KPIs and SLAs and the work will ultimately suffer. Establish the metrics, agree on how to get there, move on to getting the work done. Less complexity = less mystery = equals more transparency = better partnership =a greater degree of business success.


So let me conclude with this; my answer to the question is produce. Yes, spend some time in between producing on trying to streamline or improve the process, but since no one is getting measured on process don’t let it get in the way of producing great results for you and your client.

Views: 73

Comment by Sylvia Dahlby on February 9, 2010 at 9:41pm
Love this post, Randy.

I've been in sales for years, and some employers have required making a minium number of outbound calls every day (the process). And while I certainly love hammering the phone, it made me ask, what is my job? Making phone calls or actually selling something (to produce)?

Likewise, you may be aware that SmartSearch is a "job centric" recruiting application; you might not know that we have a corporate version, the first questions I ask in that environment is to determine whether or not their hiring workflow is "process oriented" or "results oriented" the end goal being TO FILL THE JOB.

It never ceases to amaze me how many organizations lose sight of that goal. I've actually thrown away RFPs written by IT or purchasing because they have nothing to do with actual recruiting or hiring & they're all about the process and not the result.

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