July 7, 2014

Some people like process. Others proclaim their commitment to the bottom-line.

But… And it’s a rather big but… How can you get to the bottom line without process? How can you make a good decision without process? And, as Seth Godin notes in his 06-21-14 blog, “…if we can’t agree on a process to talk about this, we’re not going to get anywhere, not for long.”

When I ask the process naysayers why they dislike process, they answer things like:

  • So messy and uncomfortable. (Well wow. That’s life, eh? Get comfortable with disagreement and challenging assumptions and cage-rattling questions and…)
  • delay of game. (But you can’t just rush into the game without adequate information and ground rules and… However, some people use “process” to intentionally delay the game and wander in the wilderness until everyone gets bored and abandons the process. This approach is inappropriate and is intended to avoid a decision, trick people, whatever.)
  • Takes too long. (There should be an arc for process. Some sense of arriving at some destination. Too long is bad. Not long enough is bad.)

Those are just a few complaints. But effective process (and effective process leaders) know all this and prepare accordingly. Effective process and effective leaders weave all of the following things together:

  • Designing transparent steps and activities that engage people and reinforce conversation and learning and change.
  • Maintaining a sense of momentum.
  • Facilitating so that people analyze and synthesize and apply.

As Seth notes in his blog, the real problem is likely a broken process. I see lots of bad process. Intentional bad process. Unintentional bad process. Lack of understanding about components of effective process.

No wonder lots of people don’t like process!


Filed under: Nonprofit Management

About Simone Joyaux

A consultant specializing in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, Simone P. Joyaux works with all types and sizes of nonprofits, speaks at conferences worldwide, and teaches in the graduate program for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, MN. Her books, Keep Your Donors and Strategic Fund Development, are standards in the field.

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