A process is a series of steps that gets us from point a to point b. In well managed organizations or settings, you will find many of these in place that help to guide the work being done. In smaller organizations or settings, processes are less prevalent and far less thought through.
They are analogous to habits. When they are present, they are not thought of explicitly as people go through the steps. In fact, many times they are executed mindlessly. The benefit of a process is that they help you get repeatable results more consistenly no matter who is executing those steps.
For the user of processes, they are quite advantageous. But what about the consumer who is thrust into a process? Pushed into a myriad of steps to get to an answer or a remedy or a desired end result? Is it perceved the same way by each one of us when we are the consumer?
Certainly not. We’re impatient. Steps feel like road blocks or impediments to getting to the desired action we want. We’re all knowing. We always feel like where we want to get to is reasonable and should be seen and agreed to by others automatically.
What we don’t see is that process can be our friend. It can provide us with some objectivity as well as thoroughness so that all things that need to be considered or done prior to a final result are done. Checklists are a great way for processes to be made explicit as well as to help educate us on what things need to be considered or done that we have not thought of.
The difficulty in life is that while we must trust the process we also must be vigilant to try to understand the process to determine what options are automatically excluded or considered in trying to get to an end result. Mindless processes become dangerous when people who execute them get lazy. Or when people who execute them are too busy and overworked to be thoughtful while executing all of the steps in a process. Or when context or perspective are never considered while executing steps in a process.
Another possibility is that the process itself could be broken. It no longer leads to repeatable results. Yet people keep using the steps in it because they don’t know what else to do. Or have never thought of other things that could be done that might work better.
As a result, we need to walk a fine line between trusting a process and checking the validity of the steps along the way. The internet can give us the requisite knowledge to ask better questions as we go through the steps that we are placed into. Healthcare and diagnosis/treatment of a condition would fall into this segment.
This interface between process steps and effectiveness is a rich area for innovation once someone begins to study the steps in a process and make them explicit. Asking why something is done (as a step) could be viewed as a new awareness that then leads to different possibilities, especially in processes that have existed for a long time.
As with all things in life, there is both a benefit to trusting a process as well as a need to be vigilant about the steps in a process. Being patient enough to do both is important to helping you achieve better outcomes.