The null process

We all have that friend who, while ordering at a restaurant, says ‘go ahead and order anything for me’. And when you order them a plate of asparagus pasta, they complain about how they hate asparagus.

We see a similar situation play out at work, where managers don’t establish processes, but expect them anyway. These managers avoid established processes with a good intention. They want to avoid taking away their team’s freedom and autonomy. Nevertheless, they harbour implicit expectations on how certain tasks ought to be performed.

In programming, a null variable is one that is defined, but not assigned a value. When this variable is used in an operation, it throws an error and derails the program. A null variable is one that ought to be present, but hasn’t yet been defined. Similarly, a null process is a process that ought to have been defined, but hasn’t yet been defined.

As managers, we all fear bad processes. However, when a task needs to be done, a process always exists to perform it. If we’re specific about how it needs to be done, we need to lay down a process. And yes – that process isn’t set in stone, and can be iterated and improved.

The key to being a good manager is to not fear processes, but to dance with them in iterations until they serve your team and your customers.

Inspiration: The Null Process

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