Process vs. Outcome

Bruce Mau lists a process-related item in his “Incomplete Manifesto for Growth.” Item No. 3 says, “Process is more important than outcome. When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.”

I advocate process as a journey, not as a destination. Let’s look at an example — You want to watch a favorite TV show. Here is one process:

  1. Locate remote.
  2. Press the right button(s).
  3. Change the channel to the right channel.
  4. Watch TV show.

And another process:

  1. Go to TV.
  2. Press button to turn it on.
  3. Press button to flip through channels (this could take a while if you have cable, digital or satellite TV).
  4. Watch TV show.

Step 4 is the outcome of the process. The steps you take to reach the outcome is the process.

But what if you don’t know the outcome? You’re endlessly flipping channels.

But if you don’t know what is the outcome, then how will you get there?

Some say we’ll know what we want to be there. How? By twitching your nose and conjuring magic?

On the other hand, when you know the outcome, you design the process to get there in the most efficient way possible. Thus, you’ll find the shortest route with the fewest obstacles to get to the TV show.

If the toddler manages to turn off the TV or take away the remote and changes the channel, then you adjust the process to get to the TV show.

It’s like saying a company will hire staff, buy equipment, and get to work on something without knowing its business goals. If you don’t know what you’re targeting, then you more apt to miss by taking a blind shot.

So, chicken or egg? Process or outcome?

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