Mindless Processes: When Systemizing Gets out of Hand

You have been and will be reading a lot about the importance of processes, including mindless process, in this newsletter. I am a fervent believer in them as they can help create scalable, manageable and fun businesses, where people at all levels execute efficiently, without hesitation, delivering quality performance. Isadore Sharp, founder of Four Seasons, was quoted saying: “Systemize the predictable. ® Humanize the exceptional.” Gino Wickman, creator of EOS, believes that the former creates your capacity to do the latter.

Having the right processes used the right way can be extremely liberating. When a process clicks, it allows people, with comparably limited experience and knowledge, to handle tasks that formerly could only be done by the seasoned entrepreneur, or executives with decades of experience giving them intuition and mastery.

Unfortunately having that kind of experience puts a corresponding price tag on an executive’s time. People that lack the fruits of practice and personal exposure love processes, as these allow them to hit the ground running and become productive quickly.

Don’t Over Systemize What Can Be Humanized 

Systemizing a business can get out of hand, however, and turn into a mindless process. I was slated for an eye operation, and wanted to schedule an appointment with the surgeon’s home office, as I had missed seeing him earlier at my ophthalmologist’s location. I called up to book the 15-minute meeting with the doctor, but unbeknownst to me, his office put me down for two hours of examinations, as part of the “new patient process”. I smelled a rat from the start, but the paradental insisted that she had to conduct her procedures to fulfill insurance requirement. After she dilated my eyes I finally realized that I was in the wrong process-queue and put my foot down. The doctor appeared shortly thereafter with a half apology.

Some companies have annoying processes that they are reluctant to change, believing that these “work for them”. What works in the short term, however, may backfire later on, when customers start walking. My merchant account processor was a case in point, when it took me eight calls and as many hours to track down their employees, that could actually help recover $5000 of lost deposits. It turned out they could only afford to retain two part time experts tasked with serving thousands of customers. The company kept rerouting frustrated callers to Level one and two support, who had no experience with troubleshooting and kept asking the same questions. Since that painful experience, I no longer buy online services without accessible support.

I also find it frustrating when customer service reps don’t update their records and keep asking the same questions over and over. I would prefer to not have to wait for them to document our conversation in real time, but if they do, how on earth they don’t revise their CRM for the next caller? Artificial Intelligence can be a refreshing experience as these machines seem to have access to and memorize more information, and can come across as more intelligent, than the humans they replace.


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