Sunday, 21 March 2010 00:00

Process Stifles Creativity

Rate this item
(0 votes)

Dallas Building Inspection Process

A couple Friday's ago, I was in a meeting and I reiterated my mantra, "Process stifles creativity." A friend, well, I think she still is, nearly jumped out of her chair. "I need to correct you," she barked, "Only poorly implemented process stifle creativity." The suddenness and passion in her response caused the gentleman sitting between us to slide his chair back quickly in order to avoid being tangled in any physical altercation. The room was full of jeers for us to settle the dispute in the parking lot. Realizing I had just stepped in a hornet's nest, I made a joke of it. However, her attack does not dissuade me.

Processes Purpose

I should have added a little clarity, since the offended friend is a co-author of the Association of Business Process Management's (ABPMP), Business Process Management Common Body Of Knowledge. But, the truth of the situation is that we were both out of order in this strictly facilitated meeting and I could say no more. Everyone missed that process had muted the interchange, when the abrupt cessation should have underscored my point. Process not only stifles creativity, but also innovation, passion, imagination and creativity—as it should; otherwise, it would fail to serve a purpose.

Process tells people what to do—the actions, the order, and the expected results. If the results are not as anticipated, the process is analyzed and altered to bring its results back to acceptable values. This new process is followed until the next unexpected output brings it to our attention and we layer on more process. People are not rewarded for being creative with the process; in fact, the reaction is quite the opposite.

Lack of Process is not Always the Precursor of Anarchy

As with our heavily facilitated meeting, if people were allowed to talk without being managed, the fear is that certain individuals would dominate the conversation (as with your's truly) and only one view would be heard or the meeting would degenerate into a cacophony of conversations, with no one being heard. Allowing innovation on how to conduct this meeting would certainly result in failure. Or, would it? Somehow, our day-to-day intercourse continues quite well without slipping into anarchy. As responsible individuals we stop, let others talk, and listen to what they say.

If you want open conversation, innovative thinking, and wild ideas, you drop the level of process and allow people to wander. People try new approaches, think outside the norm, and premier products and exemplary processes come into being. Yes, processes. Once we have a better way to do something we want to capture and implement that so others can use it. Therefore, I stick by my brash statement that process stifles creativity and let you conclude whether that is bad.

Process is to Anarchy as Management is to Leadership

I will conclude my discussion with a comparison: process is to anarchy as management is to leadership. Process and management are very close cousins. Managing people and projects is the act of imposing process to gain predictability. Process gives us the tool to foretell an action's outcome. Without it, planning would fail. It gives us confidence that we will achieve a given output. In addition, process comforts us. With it, we can manage, telling people to follow process and we have few concerns. If something goes wrong, either the person did not follow process or the process is wrong. The manager has little culpability.

On the other hand, leadership tolerates anarchy. It forms a set of malleable fabric walls that guide people in a direction to achieve a vision. Leaders take responsibility for reaching a goal; team members take responsibility for their actions contributing to that effort. The rules are scant. People are accountable and trusted. In this environment, there is little requirement for process. Creativity is enabled and the visions are attained.

Maybe process, by removing the need for leadership, is the reason so many projects fail.

Read 14967 times

Related items

  • Filling Execution Gaps

    Executives define vision, strategy, and goals to advance the business. Projects enable companies to meet those goals. Between strategy and projects, there is a lot of work to be done—work that lays the foundation for the projects’ success. Through experience and research, six common gaps exist in organizations that inhibit project success—absence of common understanding, disengaged executive sponsors, misalignment with goals, poor change management, ineffective governance, and lackluster leadership.

  • Get Recognized as a Leader: Four Core Leadership Actions

    Leaders make decisions. This requires a core set of actions to gather the best information, hear out the concerns of others, and making a decision that everyone will follow—even if they do not necessarily agree with the decision. This session covers the four core leadership actions (listening, dialog and discussion, selling a vision, and elimination of blame) that are critical in your journey as a leader. We discuss and practice these actions in small role-playing groups.

  • Build Your Leadership Style: Six Leadership Strategies

    As project managers, you need to change your leadership style based on the situation. The need for a situational style is more important in project management than in nearly any other business position. Commanding the six core strategies—directive, expert, consensus, engaging, coaching, and affiliative—allows you to build the style most appropriate for the conditions surrounding project.

  • Extreme Leadership: A Matter of Life and Death

    Leadership at any level of the company can save your business. It also saves lives. It could be your own life; it could be a stranger’s life. This opening or lunch keynote takes project management and leadership out of the mundane and safe work environment, inspiring your audience by seeing how leadership and good analysis shape and change lives.

  • Develop Your Inner Leader: Nine Leadership Traits

    One cornerstone of leadership is our personality traits. Project managers need to develop and hone nine core traits—accountability, ethics, inspiration, decisiveness, awareness, empathy, confidence, focus, and humility—to ensure they can lead our diverse work forces. This track session is a deep dive into these traits using a roundtable discussion format—the audience voices there opinion of what the trait is and the presenter moderates the discussion and gives guidance on what that means in a business setting.

Leave a comment

Filling Execution Gaps

Available Worldwide

Filling Exectution Gaps cover

Filling Execution Gaps is available worldwide. Below are some options.


PG DirectLogo
Limited Time Price $20.99
Amazon logo
Book or Kindle
Flag of the United States Canadian Flag Flag of the United Kingdom Irish Flag Deutsche Flagge
Drapeau Français Bandiera Italiana PRC flag
Japanese flag
Bandera de España
Flag of India
Bandera de México
Bandeira do Brasil
Flag of Australia
Vlag van Nederland
DeG Press Logo
Barnes and Noble Logo
Books a Million Logo
Booktopia Logo
Worldwide: Many other
book sellers worldwide.

Rescue The Problem Project

Internationally acclaimed

Image of RPP

For a signed and personalized copy in the US visit the our eCommerce website.

Amazon logo
Buy it in the United States Buy it in Canada Buy it in the United Kingdom
Buy it in Ireland Buy it in Germany Buy it in France
Buy it in Italy Buy it in the PRC
Buy it in Japan
Book sellers worldwide.

Upcoming Events

Other's References

More Info on Project Recovery

Tell me More!

Please send me more information
on fixing a failing project.