When you fall in love with the process, and you do it the right way, you have a winning mindset, and the culture is set to make that push and build a winning team.—Tyson Chandler, NBA basketball player
A colleague was telling me about a challenging client project the other day, which included her client flat-out saying to her, “I don’t like process. I just want to get stuff done.”
I hear this all the time. It may surprise many that I actually feel the same way. I’d love to be in better shape, but I hate running, so I’m not. I’d love to play an instrument, but I hate practicing, so I can’t.
Which is exactly the point. Regardless of whether you love or hate process, you can’t get stuff done or be a high-performer without it. The harder the work you’re trying to do, the more this holds true.
I can empathize with people’s dislike of process as long as they can also acknowledge its necessity. The problem is that many do not acknowledge this. I often see people resist doing things that feel “process-y,” such as taking the time to build relationships, developing shared language, or getting aligned around strategy and culture, because they claim it detracts from the “actual” work.
I find this weird and troubling. In music or in sports, you don’t ever hear professionals object to practice because it’s too process-y or because it detracts from the real work. Everyone in these fields knows that process is the real work. I was reminded of this while watching Episode 3 of The Players’ Tribune‘s excellent video series, Rookie/Vet. (Tyson Chandler’s quote from above starts at the three-minute mark.)
I want to shift our mindsets in our field around process and practice. I want people to see collaboration as a craft and to understand that improvement requires practice. There are no shortcuts or magical substitutes. Moreover, the things we’re trying to accomplish via collaboration also require process and practice. It behooves us to acknowledge this and to learn how to get good at it if we truly want to “get things done.”
On the flip-side, those of us in the business of designing and facilitating process have to hold ourselves accountable for why people might have a negative attitude toward process in the first place. One reason is that their experiences with it are poor. If we believe that good process will lead to good results, then we need to do that and hold ourselves accountable to the results.
Fields that embrace a process mindset, such as sports and music, already do that. Tyson Chandler has the credibility to tell his younger colleagues to trust the process, because he’s been a good teammate his whole career and has won a championship. If we want to convince others to trust our process, we have to design with intention and integrity. The more we practice doing this, the more that results will follow.