Process, schmocess revisited

Neil Perkin organised another Firestarters event at Google this week and a good time appears to have been had by all. Neil’s done a very thorough write up here.

I particularly enjoyed John Willshire‘s contribution in which he challenged agencies’ attachment to supposedly clever processes. He made fun of how agencies get into a predictable conversation with a client. Agency sells their WTF process client forks over large amount of cash. Agency rolls out said process and finds it doesn’t really work in this context. But in view of said cash, agency pretends to client that it’s going great. Both client and agency, in fact, end up with an investment in maintaining the fiction of this process as no one wants to appear party to a waste of money or the returning of said money to its source.

I’m afraid that Agile and Design Thinking are sometimes at risk of being turned into graven images in the same way.

As I often point out, there’s a great spiritual saying:

God spake the truth. The Devil looked at it and said, “That’s awesome. I’m going to organise this and call it religion.

Years back, I blogged about Process, Schmocess and, at the risk of sounding like I haven’t grown, I still like what I said there.

2 thoughts on “Process, schmocess revisited

  1. Ian Glendinning

    Hi Johnny, I think of this as the “meta-meta” problem.

    When we focussed too much on objective things, like counting beans in the bottom line, etc, we were encouraged to look more indirectly at the quality of the processes etc.

    Having learned that lesson, we get too focussed on “objectifying” these less tangible, “once-removed” concepts like the processes (once-removed from the objective outcomes, but now objectified) …

    So we need to move up another level to meta-processes, or some once-removed aspect of the processes, already once-removed from the objective inputs and outputs..

    It’s an evolutionary / psychological arms race. Finding a more effective angle to view a situation. Staying one creative step ahead of those you are trying to beat (or to help, either).

    And it’s never ending; after meta, it’s meta-meta, after meta-meta, it’s meta-meta-meta …. etc .. Though in practice the metaphor dies after two or three levels, and we forget there ever were lower things that we previously saw as objective reality. Most creative interaction operates at levels removed from the (current) objective reality. (Hofstadter, creative tit-for-tat / tabletop game.)

    Turning into “graven image” = objectification.


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