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My Advice to Businesses: Break Protocol

November 25, 2013

One of my biggest frustrations with living in the U.S. full-time is how over-processed everything is. I don’t mean over-processed in the sense of food and food-like substances (what’s the story behind marshmallow fluff, anyway?), I mean in the sense that every business action seems to be subject to a lengthy process.

I get it – processes make actions repeatable and analyzable. But there’s something cold and heartless about running a business exclusively through a series of processes with little creative input and thought. Businesses aren’t just automated tasks, they’re organic beings that react to what’s around them and what they see coming down the road.

Procedures and processes are useful, but they have a specific place. Consider sales; if an organization finds a successful sales process, it makes sense to codify and document that procedure so that the entire sales team can repeat it and use it. Or customer support – it’s useful to try to solve potential problems based on a checklist or triage.

But businesses can’t stop with deploying processes. The key benefit of codifying a successful process is that it frees up resources for additional creative thought and action. Instead of expending time and energy on ad-hoc solutions to challenges facing the organization, use the tools at your disposal to develop a process to respond to those challenges, and focus your energies on finding new opportunities.

Look around you, get creative, try new approaches. When facing a new challenge, think first about your instinctual response, and then consider others.

I recognize the irony in discussing how process development can make problem-solving a more organic situation. But that’s the whole point of the OODA cycle – take all of the information you have available and use it to make a well-considered decision and take action.

Nobody ever said, “my business took off because I put a lot of processes in place.” Managing your processes properly can help generate the spontaneity and creativity it takes to push your business forward. Processes engender success, but not in the way that you might think.

Curious to know more? Read Morten Sandlykke's latest blog post: Fixing that first impression

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