There are two kinds of process: process that encourages creativity and process that slows solutions. In all organizations, it is important to ask whether your processes encourages or slows. The easiest way to think about this is to classify a process as either a way of doing things (encourage) or the way of doing things (slow).
Both process types arise from different management styles. The Theory X manager is focused on processes that ensure employees follow the rules and maintain the status quo. This creates assurance through process. The Theory Y manager is focused on goal setting and lets employees explore their own processes to create what is needed. This creates space for creativity and self-actualization, a more fulfilling and fun work environment that decreases turnover rates, builds loyalty and sparks innovation.
We can think of these as desire paths. Tom Hulme gives a great talk on desire paths. Essentially, you can design a process because that is how it should be or you can look at how people use something and design around their desires. It’s not that slow process doesn’t get things done – a government gets things done – but encouraging process can get things done faster and arguably better – like nearly every tech start-up.
When you design a process, ask yourself if it is the way of doing things or a way of doing things. That is the difference.