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Breaking the clever process cycle

Breaking the clever process cycle

Jun 2021

Have you ever become exhausted from poking and prodding team members to think and show some initiative? Have you ever invested huge amounts of time, energy and resource into a team member only to be burnt by them? It can be so frustrating when team members let us down or make mistakes.

So often I have witnessed leaders fix these problems – so they never happen again!

They create a clever process or install a watcher who creates a clever process. Yet, as time goes by they again become exhausted from poking and prodding team members to think and show initiative. So, they develop another clever initiative or install another watcher who creates another clever process to help team members think creatively. And so, the cycle continues, building process upon process. Never solving the initial problem or achieving positive improvements. In the end, the leaders and the team members are exhausted.

For organisations and teams to be successful they need both people and processes. They go hand in hand. This relationship can be described as a continuum. At one end, a system totally dependent upon its people without any real process. At the other end, a system driven by process in which the people must adhere to all the rules. Both have advantages and limitations.

For many leaders, the challenge is finding the right balance between people dependency and process dependency when solving problems. This is particularly challenging as leaders like to see results. Creating a clever process provides short term satisfaction for leaders. It quickly provides a sense of achievement and assurance. However, finding the sweet spot between people and process dependency will enable leaders to better solve problems and build sustained long term success.

When the next problem emerges and before entering the next exhausting clever process cycle, consider implementing the following three simple steps.

Step1 – Most Important. Remind yourself of the team’s purpose. What are the most important things required to achieve this purpose? Nothing within leadership remains static. Tools and process required to achieve the purpose will need to change over time. Remind yourself of the most important thing. Centre your thoughts on the most important thing and keep coming back to it during the next two steps.

Step 2 – Close to the action. Teams usually only exist because the leader can not do all the work themselves (even though some leaders try to do it all themselves). Great innovation usually comes from those close to the action. This is the place to solve problems or invent new processes. The outcome – team members become empowered, and usually create better process (one they will use!). The best outcome is when the team say, ‘We did it ourselves’.

Step 3 – Solution Advocacy. The team may develop and adopt the solution, but it will only embed when the leader commits to advocacy of the solution. The leader will be required to do something. They may need to find funds, seek board approval, or gain stakeholder support. Some action will be required of the leader. Successful completion of the action will demonstrate to the team that they are valued by their leader.

These steps break the exhausting clever process cycle and establish a new cycle of aligned value. Put simply, the aligned value cycle is when the team align with the most important and they realise the value of the different roles to better solve problems and build sustained long term success.

At Joseph Consulting we work with leaders to help them establish aligned value cycles. Please call us if you would like to discuss establishing an aligned value cycle.



Jason Gallagher
Director, Joseph Consulting

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