Many of us work for results-driven organisations where process culture is a consideration, but only in as much as we need to demonstrate compliance with regulations - other than that, it’s considered a bit of a drag.
The culture of ‘it’s OK to bend the rules’ is adhered to because it’s easier, faster and more stimulating to apply your knowledge and experience to make decisions as you go - you know your job, go do it.
A recent example demonstrated the down-side and consequences of this culture. Maintenance teams at an airline felt like all the paper-work and procedural cross checking was taking longer than the job itself, so it wasn’t always done. Managers knew the paperwork wasn’t always being filled out, but didn’t intervene. The exec teams didn’t really care as long as results were delivered.
In this specific example, scheduled maintenance work almost delayed a plane from going back into service and rules were bent. As you might have guessed, this story didn’t end well. The air crash investigation findings found that a maintenance process was performed incorrectly and ultimately caused the loss of everyone on board the flight. The findings went further to conclude that prevailing corporate culture was the cause of this behaviour – that it was OK to sometimes not bother with the paperwork.
For the sake of teams and customers safety, (and indeed competitive success) we can’t keep waiting for the crisis before acting. We need to realise that results-driven and process-driven organisations are not mutually exclusive. Old fashioned attitudes to process improvement need to change. The consequences to not following processes may not be as dramatic as this example for your organisation, but remember – little things add up. There’s a right way of doing things for a reason. If it’s not the best way, get involved and change it until it is.
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