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Oct 5, 2012
Kenneth Verlage

Business processes and death by bureaucracy

Businesses likes to structure things, like processes, finances, supplychains…and employees.

If it gets structured it gets better, right? Give us Business processes, Quality and Environmental processes, Jobdescriptions, HR-processes, Project management processes and Employee Motivation Processes.

The more detailed the better.
And we will become a world class company. Outperform every other. We will work PERFEKT.

No. Sorry. It doesn’t work that way.

And believe me – i used to be a process guy and I have tried a LOT back when i was young and idealistic.

Lets say you start a business of your own, you set up as a Fine Wine importer for an Italian wine house. Naturally you don’t start with writing processes for yourself, simply because there is no need. You need to spend your time sell like hell to get your wine to the market. And success follows and you start hire a team to help. Soon you are a company of 10 persons doing logistics, finance, marketing and all the stuff that needs to be done. Still no processes, because everyone just knows what to do. You help each other, you are on fire for the cause. Its a team, its how humans work.

But at SOME point, you will have grown too big to be a tight team. Maybe the warehouse grows and needs to reallocate further away from the city. In doing so, you realize that there is some core things about your business and your wine that is essential for quality. The wine may never get warmer than 18 degrees C, bottles may never be shaken, never be put in direct sunlight or the quality of your wine will be ruined. So you write those essentials down to make sure the team who manages your new warehouse knows what they MUST do in order for your business to survive. So because they are far away and you don’t really know them personally any more you compensate that with a process. And the process is only about what is essential for you only.

And this is exactly what i process is – its a necessary SUBSTITUTE for managing ESSENTIAL PARTS of processes – if you cant be close.

Substitute means you write no processes if you are close, its a huge waste of time to write processes in small teams.

Essentials means that you cover with processes ONLY the Make-or-Break things. ONLY those, and listen to me – it SO easy to overdo.

And when you overdo you wast time and creativity, and when you overdo its called bureaucracy, and when you create bureaucracy you REALLY have lost it.

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