24 June 2009

Which Is Better?

In a meeting recently,* the Big Guy at the Head Of The Table suggested the following "A bad process is better than no process."

Um, I've got to disagree, although sadly I did not have my wits about me with sufficient speed to object during the meeting. So I'll just do it here - and save this answer for the next time I hear such an opinion expressed.

Here's how I see it: A process gone bad is generally one that puts up barriers to smart, effective behavior. It institutes needless delays and complexities. It increases costs. It discourages initiative and accountability.

An absent process, on the other hand, does not provide guidance about what to do, but neither does it introduce artificial friction into the works. So it doesn't help much, but it doesn't hinder either. A bad process hinders. I'd say that's worse.

*By "recently" I mean at some point in the past. No sense in trying to guess where I was or who the offender was.


Phil said...

no fair, Dan...i like guessing who's offensive this week!

The Dan Ward said...

On second thought, feel free to guess. :)

Don C said...

Depends on the way it's bad and the larger system in which it's embedded.

If there is the time, space, and people available for individual initiative to work though it then I would tend to agree with you.

As your future self pointed out, sometimes worse is better - it's better to have people stick to a non-optimal process in a non-central activity than introduce additional chaos. (There's certainly an advantage to reading the blog postings in reverse chronological order ;-).