The (Lack of a) Perfect Process

June 8, 2016
Last updated on
December 13, 2021

I have been working in web development and product management for over 10 years now and over that time I have read countless articles, books and blog posts on the “perfect process”. With each new process, I came into the office excited to implement it, excited to have our work expedited, improved and simplified. That high was followed by the inevitable let down when the process failed us, it was too constrictive, or too lose, or too robust, too lean. Undeterred, I would try again, look for another band-aid, a silver bullet to our development woes.

I have recently realized it doesn’t exist.

I have two small, rambunctious children, and my wife and I spend a lot of time talking to them about what our family values are. We talk about the way we present ourselves, the way we act in certain situations. We talk about integrity and kindness, we stress passion and curiosity. We talk about all these things a lot more than we talk about rules. The belief is that if we can build a strong foundation of values that will give them the tools to look at any situation and know what they should or shouldn’t do.

If I look at my development team as a family, I realize that I had never focused on values, only on rules. Process is essentially a set of rules, but as with my children, it is impossible to predict every scenario, and thus impossible to come up with rules to dictate how we should act in those situations.

So I ditched process, or better said, embraced values. Focusing on what we believe in as a team lets us build rules and process that work for a certain problem in a certain time frame, but never betray the things we believe in.

I encourage you to look past your process to the foundation it’s built on, and if you can’t say definitively what those values are, you will never have the base needed to build a culture that gets things done quickly, efficiently, beautifully.

  1. Clearly communicate to the whole company what is currently being worked on.
  2. Have a place for all the many different kinds of product requests coming through.
  3. Treat developers and designers as problem solvers, not tools.
  4. Replace as many meetings as possible with Slack.
  5. Assign responsibility and follows up with that given responsibility,
  6. Give every product team member the chance to lead and to follow.
  7. Cultivate a culture of accurate deadlines.
  8. Give opportunities to work as a team and as individuals.
  9. Include the right people early.
  10. Take ideas seriously.
  11. Give everyone in the company a voice.
  12. Have the means to filter between good and bad ideas

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