But the only thing worse than “process” is my singing.
“Process” is not my friend.
To me, invoking this word is just another way to say “stay in line” or “follow these steps” or “Hey! Better pay your 2008 taxes.”
Process = predictable + dull + ho-hum
I really don’t understand why “process” grates on me so.
My brothers and I didn’t grow up in a disorderly rag-tag household.
My dad was a GM engineer and he was an organized contemplative planner.
He was the model for the consistent systemic approach.
Every time one of us kids would bring him an issue, he’d never fail to say, “Go ask your mother.”
So maybe that was the genesis of my on-going discomfort with “process.”
My mom was a totally supportive “all-in” parent and all, one of the best… but her understanding of process was limited and consisted primarily of two steadfast message points; the golden rule and her old wooden spoon.
My mom didn’t embody a strong personal brand, just a memorable one.
So she wasn’t much help in planting an appreciation for process in me.
But a lot can happen in a week – and I’m now a believer.
Seven days ago, my wife was in a car accident and her car was totally wrecked.
Fortunately, she is a-okay… but now our lives are all about accident reporting, phone-calling, insurance claiming, car shopping, and sticker-shocking.
There’s a process for this kind of thing and I’m grateful.
And yesterday, my youngest daughter was in a car accident and her car was totally wrecked.
Fortunately, she is a-okay also… and now we’re re-starting all over again with the accident reporting, phone-calling, insurance claiming, car shopping, and sticker-shocking.
The process hasn’t changed at all in one week’s time – and I’m grateful for this, too.
Process to the rescue! Thank you!
So, I have a renewed affinity for “process.”
Whether it’s our emergency management protocols or our school technology agreement policies, I see a greater value in them now. When you follow a defined process, you can take action right away because the thinking and contingency planning have already been done.
“Process” reduces the likelihood of panic.
And don’t I know it!
Before I found out about my daughter’s calamity later on Monday, I was heading into a two-hour central office team meeting.
I stopped first to “visit” the bathroom and – with a quick curse from the gods – my zipper pull and the entire little metal housing broke off when I attempted to zip up my slacks.
I’ve had “stuck zippers” before, but at least you can still yank and yank on a stuck zipper until you get some movement… and then some coverage!
But no such luck here. My zipper was as totaled as my wife’s and daughter’s cars – and because of a gaping hole in my slacks – I was going to be late for the central office team meeting.
My mind was racing. I couldn’t think of a pleasant way out of this. The meeting was underway and I knew we had a number of critical issues to review.
I pulled down my sweater as far as it would stretch and also positioned my notebook so that it looked like it was magnetized to my belt buckle – and then I shuffled down to the meeting.
The desk where the superintendent’s secretary works is about five feet from the door to the conference room. Beth is no dummy and she asked me why I was acting like a goof as soon as she saw me.
(And I’m telling you her real name in case you want verify the accuracy of this story. Since she’s the hero in the end, I know she’ll readily confirm what I’m telling you. )
Anyway, I asked her if she had a safety pin.
After what seemed (to me) like eight minutes of digging, she finally found one.
I held onto the hope that I’d be given a black, non-discrete type pin, but Beth handed me a big bright safety pin that was probably used by Madonna on stage during her last world tour.
I had no choice but to thank Beth, go into the copy room, make the necessary repair, and get into the meeting speedy-kwik while trusting that everyone’s attention would remain on the our critical issues and not my nervous fidgeting.
Somehow I got through the meeting. (Being the professional that I am.)
When we broke for lunch, I rushed home – in the only car I owned that was still drive-able – to change my slacks.
When I got back, I returned the safety pin to Beth.
“Well,” she said. “I’m placing this in a very safe place in case you ever need it again.”
At first, I thought to myself, “I’d better not need it again!”
But then a wonderful sense of calm set in.
I’ll never have to worry if this ever happens to me again.
I already know the process to follow.
It’s not easy to