Bad processes or bad habits?

How do we know whether we have bad processes or bad habits?

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary:

Process: a series of actions that produce something or that lead to a particular result.

Habit: a usual way of behaving: something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way

We often follow processes – whether for acquiring new business, managing a project or proposal, or retaining customers – that are based on “proven processes.” The particular result we seek varies, but in general we seek a successful outcome.

Yet, even when results are empirically poor, we often continue to do things the same way. For example, perhaps we are chasing new business, and we follow our best-practice business development processes. The result is a downward trend in win rates. While we may hold a lessons-learned session or attend a debrief meeting with the customer to learn why, often we fail to isolate the problem and then revise our processes accordingly. In many cases, we do not even bother to find out why we failed; we just keep on keeping on!

Another example relates to our health. Perhaps we work long hours at our desk without interruption, snacking on unhealthy foods and sleeping poorly at night. Our work quality suffers, but we repeat the bad habits thinking that hours equate to results – or at least the face time will impress the boss.

When we consistently obtain poor results, the bad process is the same as a bad habit. Bad habits are really a combination of laziness and inability to accept change. We can blame the bad habit on the bad processes – “that’s the way we do it” – or we can isolate the root of the problem and determine what needs to change.

So, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Does the process yield the results we desire?
  2. Is there any reason to continue the process?

If the answer to both questions is no, then it is time to change the process or processes that have become bad habits. The change may cause stress in the short term, but it may also result in better outcomes. If not, then repeat the two questions above and continuing changing.

By Lisa Pafe

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Lohfeld Consulting