Sunday, 4 December 2011


Polysilicon gates - From Wikipedia

Process is a version of procedure is a version of system is a version of method...

Describing someone as process-driven can be a criticism, but it tends to be the type of criticism made by those who are not entirely process-driven themselves. Free spirits in a world where free spirits are increasingly treated as gatecrashers.

Of course process is what delivers the modern world to us. Those electronic devices which string our world together are surely miracles of process-driven precision engineering. Laptops, mobile phones or even humble inkjet printers are astonishing examples of what can be achieved from process-driven exactitude harnessed to mass-production and vast markets.

But issues arise when process is applied to people, as it inevitably has been since the dawn of organised living and organised conflict. We need it of course, because without process-driven people, we don’t get the cheap products and services we’ve come to expect, but as with so many benefits, there is a downside.

For example, the political world seems to have become far too process-driven. Many key political processes have been distilled into standard scripts – standard forms of verbal and written behaviour dictated by the exigencies of the process. It isn’t only call-centres where the process is a script – the process-driven script is widespread in politics too – not to mention the predicable political and social commentary we hear from mainstream media.

Process-driven human behaviour isn’t new of course, being as old as verbal behaviour itself. It is essential for organisational success in complex societies, but what if process-driven scripts invade our creativity? Surely our creativity is pretty close to that place where our freedom resides?

Where do the creative arts, lateral thinking and thinking out of the box fit in a process-driven world? How can creativity and freedom be process-driven? How can they be delivered by a script?

What if creativity is already becoming process-driven? How would we know? How would we say so? How do we insert our new ideas, our alternative possibilities and our constructive criticisms into the script? If they aren’t already part of the process?


Sam Vega said...

Yes, I had never thought of it in this way before. The danger is probably that the "free spirits" (who can see through the process, and come up with better ways of doing things) will never get a look in, and we will be condemned to follow the dominant processes for ever. Presumably this is what happens with language anyway? But scary to think that Gates and Jobs etc. have had that much influence...

A K Haart said...

SV - I think processes become dominant - that's the real problem. They always have of course, but by now we should know better if we want a complex but livable society.

rogerh said...

Well, we have two versions of 'process' here - the process that leads to exactitude in making and doing things - laptops, iPhones, Faberge eggs, conveancing houses, making fancy watches and shiny new motor cars. This is essentially good craftsmanship and a good thing.

Then there is political process - a mere script that produces some warm air and nothing else. Administrative processes are alleged to prevent abuses, but somehow abuses keep slipping through. Not a good thing, but we are dealing with very crooked timber here.

Creative people seem to come in at least two sizes, those who never knew or cared about 'process' and those who manage to rise above 'the process' and see a broader sweep. The results may be extraordinary or they may be rubbish - thankfully there is no process to determine beforehand which.

A K Haart said...

rogerh - I'm conflating the two types of process because I think that's what happens. For example, creative writing and publishing are being turned into processes.