Does the Process Matter? Or, More About Process vs Results.

After posting last week’s blog post, I realized I have more I want to say about effort versus results. Or more accurately, about process versus results.

I heard a saying one time, it went along the lines of:

“A sub-par team will produce sub-par results no matter what process is used. Conversely, a good team will produce good results despite what process is used.”

In other words, no matter how many awesome Agile, Scrum, XP, Pair Programming, Test Driven Development processes you use, if you have a team of programmers who struggle, then your project is going to struggle. But on the other hand, if you have a great team of strong developers, then no matter how much you get in their way with bureaucracy and irrelevant processes, they will rise to the occasion and deliver quality.

So this raises a fascinating question: Does this mean the process doesn’t matter?

No, of course not! The best surgeon in the world still follows protocols. The best pilot in the world still uses a takeoff and landing checklist. The best football quarterback still uses a playbook. And I bet the best software teams in the world use processes.

But here’s the key…I bet they choose which processes to use, tailor them to their use cases and development lifecycle, and use the processes in a way to add value (instead of just doing them for the process’s sake).

If you are a manager, you may not want to hear this, but maybe it is not up to you what the process is. What matters is that you have hired, trained, build, and supported a team that is good, and is doing a process at all. The details of the processes can be left up to the team; after all, if you hired and built a great team then don’t you trust them to build great processes?

As a manager, you need to focus on your team and people, and not on your processes. Otherwise, you run the risk of being more focused on what processes are being done instead of how well the team is performing.

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