Every day, multiple times each day, we follow processes. We observe patterns when we wake up in the morning and steps we note when we’re preparing to end our day. We follow a process to put gas in our cars, recipes that guide us in baking our favorite foods, and procedures we pay attention to when we onboard new clients. Frankly, there’s a process for just about everything we do.
Here’s a real-world example to showcase why this matters… When clients come to us, they generally need certain things. For example, many approach us in need of a new or refreshed website. As an agency, we have a detailed process that we guide customers through to get them from ideation and concepts to a living and breathing online site. Based on our experience and expertise, we know exactly what steps need to be followed to guide us from Point A to Point B, then C, D, E, and so on. It begins with our onboarding steps where we define their project and goals, and ends with our go-live process. Throughout the project, every step matters.
Sometimes it can feel like the process boxes us in, especially within an industry where creativity is so valued. What we’ve learned over time, though, is that processes actually enable us to be more creative because we’re not wasting mental energy on things we can simplify. Processes actually lead to increased freedom.
We’ve learned over time (and early on some bad experiences) why processes are so important. Here’s what we’ve discovered…
Processes Create Efficiencies
First, having a process in place creates efficiencies. It eliminates the energy that gets wasted when we have to ponder what to do next. A good process answers that question for you. Once I complete this, I move onto this next step. It’s like working from a good recipe in the kitchen. A well-thought-out process creates a space where you can build momentum in your work because you always know what’s coming around the next bend. You never have to break because you always know where you’re headed.
Processes Protect Us
The other thing we’ve learned about processes is that they ensure you don’t miss any critical steps. By defining each action that has to occur to accomplish any task, you create a set of guardrails that will keep you on track. Those guardrails are there to help assure success, as well as making sure that nothing gets missed as you’re moving toward the completion of your project. By creating simple step-by-step lists and then following those lists, you protect yourself from unnecessary stumbles and wasting precious time and energy.
Processes Require Following
Following the process is an essential part. This means documenting your process and creating some checklists that you can reference along the way. We often see the process in our heads and think we have all the steps in sight. Then, as a project ramps up or the pace quickens, we rush through a few steps and miss something obvious and simple. Relying on memory to execute any process, especially in the very beginning, can be deadly. Documentation helps remove the danger and guards against foolish mistakes.
Processes Are a Must for Teams
Processes are fundamental when we are working on teams. In situations where we’re relying on others and working together, the ONLY way to be successful is to employ good processes. Part of any good process is communication, and this is amplified when we are collaborating with others. Ensuring that part of the process includes sharing information and continual check-ins helps make processes work well for everyone involved in a project. When the communication breaks down, so does the process.
Look around. There are likely one or two things you do every day that could use some simple process documentation. Test yourself. Grab a sheet of paper or an online document, and walk yourself through all the actions you need to take to accomplish a task. Then, sit on it for a couple of days and review it again to make sure you didn’t miss anything. Finally, once you have the process, lean into it and use it.
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