In the salad days of Wikipedia there were few processes to keep it running. Any issues could quickly be resolved with informal discussions because early contributors all knew each other or soon did. But, as it grew, more and more process was needed to ensure that the community could continue to collaborate effectively. These procedures, however, have generally been developed collectively and are still open to edits, should a large enough group of contributors find a better way of doing something.
Wikipedia is a unique case, but many businesses could learn a thing or to from its collaborative anarchy.
Lessons from Wikipedia
As the case of Wikipedia bears out, a bit of process is vital to facilitate effective collaboration and ease along routine tasks, particularly as your business scales up and more and more workers take to anytime, anywhere working.
Process provides a blueprint for the business, stating who’s responsible for each step and how and when they should complete it, wherever or whenever they’re working.
Process, done well and kept brief, shouldn’t get in the way of action and efficiency but promote them.
The benefits of proper process
- Process keeps you competitive. Defined processes allow you to produce quality work and products consistently, increasing customer satisfaction. In this world of tight margins, clients don’t gamble with inconsistency.
- Process keeps you agile. Codifying your procedures makes it easier to adapt to market changes. And, if something goes wrong or you find yourself duplicating efforts, you can quickly identify which part of the chain failed and modify it for future projects.
- Process maintains continuity. Process provides a framework for the core operations of your business, minimising the effects of business interruption from illness, new hires and employee turnover. You don’t want your process to depart along with the employee.
- Process creates culture. Process develops a style and approach to work that can help foster a company culture and help you understand what roles to hire for.
Process from the bottom up
The other point to take from the case of Wikipedia is that process shouldn’t be imposed from on high.
CEOs and managers rarely experience the exact same processes and protocols as their employees, so they’re not necessarily the best advocates.
Processes are best created collaboratively through a bit of trial and error. See what works and what doesn’t and adapt accordingly.
Over at Turbine’s sister company, Articulate Marketing, we’re forever tinkering with our processes in order to get the most from the tools and applications we use. Far from more red tape, we use procedure to streamline our work, finding the path of least resistance, which, ultimately, benefits our clients – they get better work, faster.
Process to success
Process and protocol is all about balance. Too little and you lack direction and consistency, too much and you strangle creativity and action. Just the right amount, however, can be a real competitive advantage.