That’s right, give away your processes. But, they are my bread and butter you say. No, they’re not. I’m 26 years into my professional life as an educator, musician, trainer, instructional designer, project manager, entrepreneur, company leader and organizational developer and if I have learned anything, it is that you CAN and should give away you processes. Your students, clients, reports, friends and family know it. Now, you need to know it.
Think of a process like a roadmap. Give someone a map and watch what they do with it. Some will frame it and hang it on the wall. Others will grab hold and start an adventure of a lifetime.
I’ve been a process guy all my life. I’m not sure why I am this way, but I love mapping how to do things. My thinking is that if we have a clear process for something, we can do it really well and change it over time as needed. I think I am this way because I want…no…need to get things out of my head and into some archived format for later consumption and application. And, I think we (humans) just aren’t curious enough and if one thing can spark our thinking, it is process mapping. To do it, we have to THINK. We have to consider relationships, we have to take perspectives and build systems. Wait…what? We have to THINK? Ok…side story here.
See, what I just offered is a roadmap, a process of sorts that I learned from two friends Derek and Laura Cabrera (https://www.crlab.us/). They discovered HOW we think. For now, I’ll call it a process. It has parts, distinctions, systems, relationships and perspectives. They gave me this roadmap years ago. I started my adventure the minute I unfolded the pages of the map. And WOW…what a journey. I’m still on it. This is my point. When we share our processes with others, our hope, our DREAM is that they will take it on a personal journey.
So here I am, a consultant. I help organizations make shifts, change, build programs, train their teams, and THINK, and I’ve got this asset I call a process. Why give it away?
- Process as Promotion
I follow great examples across my interests such as IDEO and Todd Henry. Both are examples of how people are willingly giving away process in order to foster deeper relationships. In essences, process is the new promotional tool. But, please don’t think I think of process sharing as a marketing gimmick. Yes, it is a way to reach people. As I mentioned above, some will take it, frame it and hang it on a wall. Others will EMBRACE it, live with and BY it and really make great things happen. If someone does that with a process I share, I KNOW they will connect with me at a DEEP level. Those are the clients I want to work with. How about you? The wall hanger, or the adventure taker? Who do you want as a client, partner, or trusted comrade? Those who see value in the process, trust the process and will engage with you for a long, long time.
- You and Your Process are Connected
Building on the point above, processes you build are a reflection of you. When folks engage with your process and ultimately you, they bring value to you (and your company, organization, school, etc.) Your processes and you are joined by DNA. While many can use the process alone, without you, the process is missing something. I often find myself creating new visuals (maps) of my processes for clients. For example, I just finished this one.
This process reflects HOW I work based on what I’ve learned from others, how I have fine tuned techniques to work for my style and how I am confident and comfortable leading or helping others. The process is me, I reflect the process. We are a system. So am I giving it away? No, I am making a real connection with those who choose to connect.
- Avoiding the Gloss Over Moment
Again digging deeper into the points above, what about the visual (the map) is special? When clients ask “how do you do x?” or “how WILL you do x?”, I can describe the process to them. These moments often feel like a stranger in a car has pulled up next to me on my walk to ask for directions to the local gas station. At some point in my explanation, they gloss over. I can see they’ve absorb 10% of what they really need to know to fulfill their goal of getting to the gas station. I persist and attempt to simply in hopes I can raise their understanding to at least 50%. I can see they’re trying to paint a picture. In the end, they drive off and I have no idea if they made it or not. I don’t want clients to have that experience. First, I want to them to visualize in the now AND the future (for reference and sharing with others). I don’t want them to have to remember a complex system. In fact, I know if I ask a client to do so, they will more often than not NOT connect with me on an effort. They’ll seek out a connection that supplied them with the needed visualization and memory aid. Sharing that aid throughout a relationship cycle keeps us all from glossing over.
- Processes aren’t Sacred. Outcomes are.
I will always cherish the outcomes of partnership efforts. On the flip side, when I’ve shared processes with others, those moments are fleeting. I’m not a process bubble gum machine from my perspective, yet I have had a prolific process development career. I’ve worked both on personal and client driven process building. Process building is like Monopoly money. It has value if you play the game. Otherwise, it’s paper in a box. I’ve shared and built processes for clients they never put it into practice. Why? Because they didn’t value the outcome. Odd right? When we value process over outcome, we lose sight of the purpose of process. Sometimes, process mapping is a act of compliance. For example, Organization A has to document their procedures for licensure or code audits. After they complete it, it goes on a shelf. Staff go about their normal routine. The process lives out its life without value. Life goes on. Process dies. Outcomes go unrealized. When good enough is enough, when possible outcomes outgrow staff or organizational capacities, when moving from A to A+ is just too much work, sharing process without practice happens. Too often! So give them away…but be aware, they need you to ensure outcomes remain sacred. Help them take their adventure of a lifetime.
I hope something here sparks your creative process building. As always, please share your thoughts and even a process or two.