In my last post, I wrote about the characteristics of a good process. In reviewing yesterday’s text it dawned on me that I didn’t touch strongly enough on the single biggest factor involved in creating a bad process, which is the process for the sake of process. While the Nike slogan “Just Do It” has become part of our pop culture, it may not always constitute the soundest business practice. Don’t get me wrong, I have always believed that a strong bias toward action is an essential quality to be possessed by leaders. That being said, it’s just that taking action solely for the sake of action may create more problems than it solves.

I think Peter Drucker said it best when he stated that there’s “surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.” If I had a nickel for every time I’ve witnessed a company spend countless time, energy, and money improving the wrong processes I’d have a whole lot more nickels…

The simple truth is that in a significant number of instances even the most dramatic level of process improvement won’t create meaningful gains in performance. If a process improvement initiative doesn’t add value or create value then why improve the process?

The easiest method of determining whether a process is valuable is to focus on initiatives that positively impact core competencies, visibly affect customer relationships or separate you from the competition. It is a worthwhile exercise to take an annual inventory of all processes to determine which ones are barriers to productivity and which ones accelerate productivity. It would be my strongest suggestion that you put a damper on investments into processes that simply exist for tradition’s sake or because a process is an executive’s pet project. Bottom line…Don’t just do it, but rather do it because it’s worth doing…

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