The People vs. Process Spectrum

Written by Dave Bailey

Filed under management

People practising yoga to find balance

New companies usually have few processes in place, so team members are often encouraged to ‘figure it out’. But as the team grows, so does the complexity.

The intuitive solution is to create standard processes and train your team to use them. However, as the number of processes grows, you may find your company becomes too rigid, slow-moving, and bureaucratic.

How do you strike the right balance?

Whenever you come across the word ‘balance’, try to clarify the two extreme ends. In this case, the extremes might be:

  • The ‘people’ extreme: People are free to choose how they complete their goals, even if their way doesn’t leverage existing work and negatively affects other stakeholders.
  • The ‘process’ extreme: People must follow a standard process, even if they identify a more efficient, or effective, way to complete their goals.

Identifying the extremes helps you tease out the pros and cons, and move to a ‘both/and’ solution. For example, you may want to empower people to choose the best way to achieve their goals, while leveraging existing work and respecting other stakeholders.

Wait. Leveraging existing work? Respecting other stakeholders? They’re behaviours, aren’t they? Yes, and that’s the insight: if you want to balance people and process, focus on your culture. 


Originally published Apr 16, 2021, last updated Jun 1, 2021

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