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 processes were needed to ensure 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 small 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 help routine tasks. This is particularly helpful if your business scales up and more workers take to remote working.
Process provides a blueprint for the business, stating who’s responsible for each step and how and when they should complete it. For example, a simple HR process or tool can help cut down on procedural confusion and improve the timeline from an employee request to approval.
Process, when done well, shouldn’t get in the way of efficiency, but promote it.
Benefits of proper process in business
Having the right procedures in place in your business can help to streamline your workloads and help increase employee productivity. But that’s not all. Here are some other key benefits:
- Competitiveness. 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.
- Agility. 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.
- Continuity. Process provides a framework for the core operations of your business. This can minimise the effects of business interruption from illness, new hires and employee turnover. After all, you don’t want your process to depart along with your employees.
- Culture. Process develops a style and approach to work that can help foster a company culture and help you hire better employees.
From the bottom up
The other point to take from the case of Wikipedia is that you shouldn’t impose process from on high. After all, CEOs and managers rarely experience the exact same processes and protocols as their employees. As a result, 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 which, ultimately, benefits our clients. Through our hard work and collaboration, 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.
[Note: this blog post was originally publish 05/02/14 but we have since updated it with new content]