Blind Luck is not a Sustainable Business Process

Its that time of the year when my reading list gets really long. Summer has always been a great time for me to get through  a large number of books that can’t seem to get my attention during the winter months. For Father’s Day, I received a copy of Tom Verduci’s book, The Cubs Way

If there is one major theme that comes back again and again in this book it is that building a successful organization is all about process. In fact, the book begins with a page showing a line-up card by Cubs manager Joe Madden. On each line-up card that manager Joe Madden prepares he writes,

 “Stick to the process don’t worry about results.” 

In each chapter of the book Verduci lays out the processes that every part of the Cubs organization put in place to build a successful team. From finding players with good character to building the core of the line-up around four key impact players, to team defense and pitching, every move was linked to a process. Why? 

In organizations, it is far too easy to get caught up in getting to the results and ignoring how you got there. I call this blind luck management. I’ve seen many organizations initially be successful with this strategy. Get to the results desired and figure the rest out later. In every case, there is no exception, in the end their business is not sustainable. They not only lack an understanding of the processes that got them to success, they can’t repeat the success because they don’t understand the process. 

What is Process?

A process is simply a series of actions taken to achieve a desired outcome.

I speak with many organizations on a weekly basis. In every conversation I ask them to describe how they achieve a certain result. They may have achieved success in their fundraising for the year – Great! How did you get there? What process did you put in place to achieve this outcome? If they can’t tell me then I dig deeper and ask them how was the goal initially set? Were there tactics set forth in the goal? Was an overarching strategy articulated? Many don’t want to have this conversation because it makes them uncomfortable. They want to stay wrapped in the comfort of achieving success, not in actually understating the process that got them there. 

Process is so critical to success. There are a couple of reasons. 

  • Developing good processes makes measuring results  and refining the process easier.
  • Processes are repeatable.
  • Processes can be refined without always having to start over.
  • Processes hold the organization accountable.

Let’s return to the Joe Maddon quote. By putting good processes in place it is easier to concentrate on the process and less on the results. Remember results just don’t happen. They are a product of the process. By refining the actions and measuring the results, the Cubs kept learning and refining their processes until they achieved a level of success that was measurable and repeatable.

As you think about the success that your organization has achieved over the last year, take note of the processes that enabled success. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • What processes do you currently have in place and how are they impacting the success of your organization?
  • How have the results or metric of your organization changed as you refined your process?

If your team understands the processes for getting work done, they will be more empowered to actually commit to the work. As your organization reviews the prior year and gets ready for the future, try getting together as a team and map out those processes that were successful. Those processes can lay the groundwork for how to address those processes that are not optimal. By focusing on the process you become a continuously learning organization.

By focusing on process organizations have a gateway to greater opportunity for success. The process is more important than the results. Keep focusing on the process and like the Cubs, sustainable success will follow. 

Go Cubs! 

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