Chapter 36. Good Process Is Evolved, Not Designed

Will Larson

Time management is an ongoing challenge for managers. Although there can be a certain heady rush to being relentlessly busy, I’m convinced that far more senior managers are overwhelmed with work than they want to be. What’s a bit scary to contemplate is that they’re overwhelmed by work generated from processes that they themselves were heavily involved in designing.

Process design is a foundational skill for well-run organizations, yet is often treated as an afterthought. Individual processes garner a great deal of attention, but we rarely speak about how to create process effectively. The good news is that success here doesn’t require innovation or novelty: adopt a structured approach and you’ll quickly become an effective process designer.

How to Evolve Process

When we talk about creating a process, we almost always say that we designed a process. Design is a great word, because it implies the kind of careful thoughtfulness that great process does indeed possess. However, it’s also a misleading word, because great process never emerges from the Feynman algorithm (“write down the problem, think very hard, write down the solution”), but instead derives from guided evolution.

Here’s the algorithm that I’ve found effective:

1. Identify problem statement
There is a problem that either you have identified or folks you ...

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