Seeing through the process

John Gall’s excellent The Systems Bible, which I’ve just been reading, helps all of us who have become enslaved by the system and its processes.

It’s too easy to serve the process and forget about its purpose. We often end up being invisibly enslaved by the process, or using it to hide behind. It’s much healthier to understand why the process exists and see through it to that further thing, the purpose. When we do this we can make even small decisions in different ways within the system, but in so doing help things disproportionately. Or we might realise that some aspects of the process are out of date and need changing.

For example, suppose we are limiting work in progress to speed throughput. Our process says that if there’s a blockage down the line then it’s a bad idea to take on more work, as that just adds to the blockage. But simply using a hiatus to put your feet up is hiding behind the process or failing to see its deeper purpose. The deeper purpose of limiting work in progress is to expose blockages and thus eliminate them. So it’s better to use the time to do that, which improves things for everyone.

If we let ourselves become enslaved by the process it turns into a system-monster with its own life. Better to see through the process and never let the tail wag the dog.