Process not people

If a product disappoints customers is it because of its architects or is it because we gave its architects too many constraints, too little training or a compensation scheme that rewarded the wrong behaviors? 

“Blame the process, not the people” is a quote most often attributed to late management guru W. Edwards Deming. It is a central tenet in Lean management, but as more processes become digitized with code written by people, does this principle stand the test of time?

In my experience the answer is yes. An obvious example is in project management when focus on budgets and deadlines can stifle customer feedback and team creativity. A product fails and we blame the product manager or product team. But if they were able to follow a better process, one with improved customer understanding and frequent customer feedback, the outcome might have been different. If a product disappoints customers is it because of its architects or is it because we gave its architects too many constraints, too little training or a compensation scheme that rewarded the wrong behaviors?

Consider

Think about recent business disappointments and the processes that could be contributing to them. If you start with the assumption that “it’s the process not the people” do things suddenly look different?

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