Process vs Personality
Category: Column By : Andrew Tani Read : 151 Date : Wednesday, October 04, 2017 - 14:29:23

There is much hype about digitization and the need for transformation to a digital mindset these days—enough to cause some business owners and executives to express concern that they will be left behind unless they start considering cloud computing, robotics, artificial intelligence or Big Data analytics in their business models. I tell them to go by need versus speed when they make the decision to invest. Just as we learn to crawl before we can walk, and walk before we can sprint, company cultures can progress to data-driven ways of doing things as the management mindset matures to a digital one. Making the transition too quickly could lead to sub-optimization, a condition where you cannot reap the expected exponential benefits from your digital technology investments.

A substantial majority of Indonesian companies are still run by executives with the trader’s results-driven, process-forgotten mindset. Many of them think that they’ve made the transition to the industrialist’s process-driven, results-oriented mindset, but they haven’t. All that they’ve done is add some leading indicators using Kaplan’s Balanced Scorecard to the lagging indicators highlighted by Drucker’s Management by Objectives goal-setting practices. In their world, individual KPIs rule.

To manage is to control, and there are only two ways to control: by trust and by process. Trust is expecting others to be competent and reliable enough to perform a task in the right way, the excess of which tolerates infractions by trusted star performers. Process is enforcing the right way for people to perform a task, where no one is above the system. Where the trader mindset creates a culture that relies on brilliant personalities who gain special privileges as a reward for the excellent results that they deliver, the industrialist mindset creates a team performance culture that relies on brilliant processes to deliver results and places everyone without exception under the rule of law.

I believe that there is a subconscious difficulty for the Indonesian psyche to transform from trader to industrialist because of the traditional meaning and use of the word proses in Bahasa Indonesia. The word is commonly perceived to imply time, change or a sequence of tasks. To drive home my advice at the start of a culture transformation exercise, I recommend that the word be imbued to mean order. Order implies hierarchy and with it the authority to enforce roles and rules, and set goals. Order demands the compliance, discipline and accountability of organizational members. Order calls for the top management team to take up the responsibility to develop people and establish brilliant processes that deliver sustainable and scalable results, and not just deliver yearend business results.

Technologies spawned in the 21st century immediately create more value in companies that are already enjoying the benefits of brilliant process management. Their ability to heighten accuracy, speed and processing capacity in leaps and bounds for innovation, productivity or efficiency is not hampered by disorder and personality issues.



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