What do we mean when we say “process-centric” thinking? What we mean is that individuals, groups or teams and even an entire organization sees their work and activities being driven by or related to process first, rather than person, technology or information first. Remember that a process is a structured set of activities that take inputs and convert them to outputs that help to satisfy business, customer or user outcomes. When we look to accomplish work or produce a good or service we are going to do that in a structured way (a process). To paraphrase Dr. W. Edwards Deming, “…if you cannot describe your work or what you do as a process, you do not know what you do.”
A “process-centric” approach should not imply that you should forget completely about people, technology or information. These are important factors in completing the production of goods and services. It is that these other factors make the process possible. In turn, a process relies on these elements to work most effectively, efficiently and economically. People run processes; technology facilitates processes; information makes processes flow. Without these elements, a process becomes simply a set of steps on a flowchart.
By focusing first on process we can tie the other three elements together and see how they work in tandem to produce the best value possible. They do not get in the way of process; rather process gives these elements a track or guide to follow. Processes help establish the boundaries in which people, technology and information can operate. Establishing boundaries, rather than strict command-and-control mechanisms (which often lead to micro-management), provides the freedom for creativity, innovation and improvement. Processes allow us to govern and management according to norms; rather than managing everything by exception.
So do you and your organization see the world through the lens of process? As stated, process should not be the only lens you use to achieve your goals. Process, however, should be one of the main perspectives you take.