Process and Bowling

I have been dabbling once again with bowing.  I did this when I was a kid with my family.  I bowled on a league from time to time as well.  Then you graduate, get a job, wife, and child, and you sort of just stop plying for whatever reason.  As I restart my bowling endeavor, I realize how process intensive it is.  Stand here. Aim at this specific point (dots on the lane).  Walk like this, ball moves out, then back, then forward while moving toward the foul line.  The swing comes forward, ball comes off the hand like this, then follow through, then ball lands on your spot, then look up at the pins to see if you are going to do anything productive.  This should look like a process to you. I notice, when I tick all of the boxes in a good way, I knock down most if not all of the pins. Violation of some of these, miss the dot on the lane where the ball should land, drop the ball behind me or sling it off to the left or right, and well, open frame.

Why do we have processes? In the case of bowling, the process is there to limit variation of my score, specifically to improve the maximum while reducing the number of times that I bowl really low.  The process is a way to understand and minimize variation to optimize the outcome or result of the work.

Our work lives to be sure are no less complicated than bowling. There are often more points of articulation, for example, my bowling is individual even when part of a team, that is the pins I leave are my responsibility to pick up in the second ball or for an open frame.  In many cases in our work lives, there are depending consequences which require exchanges of information or work in progress. In this regard often the work life look more like running a relay, but there are processes for that also.

The point is, the work process and processes are similar to the steps in bowling, and in general are not bad things. We use them everyday, and though we may complain about “the process” or “our process” there is a point to these. Every time need not be the first time, and guidance from previous experience is helpful.  There are some that think the best way to do the work is to shun processes making everything too complicated or too one off to warrant having a formalized process.




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