As a creative, the word process often makes me grind my teeth. Yet life in the corporate world is often full of processes (and people LOVE to make the plural form sound like it rhymes with skis).


I’ve learned throughout my career that every time something goes wrong, the first thing to scrutinize is the process, or lack thereof. But what I’ve gathered through numerous hours spent reworking and testing processes is that some things are better left to chance.


I speed read a book for work called The Good Jobs Strategy – a pretty great book with some great ideas for businesses. The concept that particularly resonated with me the most (and the one I reference frequently in work discussions) is standardizing and empowering. In retail, this speaks to the shopkeeper mentality – the corporation will set the guidelines to follow, but the bottom line is that the store should do what’s best for their customer. But this is an important concept for other industries, too.


The million-dollar question: How do you find a healthy balance between processes that make you efficient and processes that cripple creativity?


Focus on people rather than process. A company and its leaders shouldn’t focus on developing robotic ways to get work done, but should focus on developing its people to solve problems that may arise. Humanity doesn’t operate robotically, so how can processes possibly work 100% of the time?


Actually empower your people to make decisions. A really foolproof way to upset your team and cause spin in the workplace? Back pedaling on a decision that your team member felt empowered to make. You must empower with action, not with permission. Give your people the right tools to make the best decision and support them and expect accountability whether it’s right or wrong.


The loudest voice might not be the correct voice. Feedback is the greatest gift, right? Hm…maybe. Sometimes the loudest feedback might spark some reactive action that could result in a jaded process that won’t work for everything or everyone. Be sure to evaluate the big picture before you make any serious changes.


Nitpicking will get you nowhere. The bottom line is that processes can very easily break down. 80% of the time, they might work perfectly. But when you’re dealing with humans, nothing can be perfect. And frankly, having that expectation may just set you up for failure. Work with your team and develop a culture of empowerment.


How do you manage processes in your organization? What processes could you not function without? Tell us in the comments below!