“We have to consider people, process and technology.” It’s a phrase I hear quite often, especially among IT folk. Sometimes they say, “people, process, technology and content.” These are the things to consider when implementing a system. There are a myriad of variations. Yesterday I was told by an experienced consultant that they always consider policy when thinking about process. “People, process and technology” has entered our business thinking much like proverbs such as “a stitch in time saves nine.” They create the framework for our thinking and both guide and constrain our actions.
I’d like to focus on the Process element of this business proverb and would like to suggest that this word creates a limited and inadequate response when thinking about what happens to make a system work. The word ‘process’ suggests all those things you can describe and write down, especially using boxes and arrows. Yet we know professional practice and even expert craft is required to get things done. So here is my suggestion. When we use the PPT (all business proverbs should have an acronym—my little joke) let’s expand ‘Process’ and include Practice and Craft. Here is a short-hand way of thinking about it.
- Process is what you are told to do
- Practice is what everyone does
- Craft is striving for utmost quality with years of experience under your belt
And the ways to understand these three modes also differs but it’s hard to categorise except to say that many processes can be analysed, many practices can be observed and illustrated with stories and craft can be observed, experienced and appreciated but takes years to learn.
I’m certain better systems will emerge if we take this wider view of process.
About Shawn Callahan
Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on: