Many of the people I have been running into during my day to day activities have expressed to me that they are following a process of some kind. These folks are following rules or procedures designed by corporations and governments to mechanize and standardize the way daily business interactions are conducted.
Simplification of complexity in integrated activities, such as the global supply chain, have improved economic efficiency at the expense of hidden fragility. Qualitative activities (work as art) cannot really be understood well enough to be broken down into simplified tasks. Procedure, integration, simplification, and mass production does not necessarily accrete to our society.
I see some value in having a consistent approach to manufacturing and even low-level service functions that are routine, simple, boring, or repetitive. I also acknowledge that a procedural flow chart might be a good starting point for the deployment of some higher level services such as the mass application of baseline-metrics-driven minimum medical care. Alternatively, I am observing intensively-procedurally-schooled people, such as doctors and pharmacists doing tasks that could easily be managed by machines and technology. Unfortunately, and because of the perception of having an easy path to profit efficiency, I see “processes” being applied to all aspects of human activity with little bench checking to see whether or not all this rote and repetitive activity results in desirable outcomes and an efficient use of intellect.
Hiding behind a process is frequently being used as a defense mechanism for the inept, irresponsible, or the sociopathic. “Process” provides a bureaucratic escape clause to accountability, exception handling, and reason. Process shuts down the pursuit of excellence in favor of repeatability and mediocrity. Process means that every single detail, a single cog, becomes more important than superset concerns. Most of all, the word “process” shuts down individual initiative and critical thinking towards the overview.
The affinity to process-driven systems stymies all ability to lead in the context of uncertainty to both ideals and meaningful objective. A process cannot be used to bench check the “sanity” of a leadership initiative. Observation, measurement, objectivity, feedback, critical thinking, and continual adjustment will yield a much better result than a procedural or political control made only on whims.
Human systems are not really understood even though many people claim otherwise. Truth be told, nobody really understands how the economy functions and nobody really understands how individuals and the greater society functions. The smartest among us are disenfranchised because their propensity to think independently and critically runs smack into a procedural wall of Randian blocking forces.
We have a survival imperative to reform our culture so that it encourages thinking instead of following. The “earth-system,” being part of the total universe, could not care less about the people inhabiting it or even its own continuity. A culture that encourages critical thinking will enable both people and leaders to take initiative in charting their own path towards survivability, empathy, ideals, opportunities, realizations, understanding, and overviews.