Why are you afraid of process?

Is it because it gets in the way of intuition?

I spend a lot of time railing against organizations and teams that fall in love with process at the expense of innovation. This is not a post about that.

It’s about the opposite.

Our culture embraces the intuitive craftsman. We don’t talk about Harlequin Romances or artists who paint by number. Heroism is about writing a novel or making a sale based on what’s deep inside of you… not by following a prescribed pattern.

The plant manager who is proud of his seat-of-the-pants inventory management system, the bizdev guy who cherishes his network, the physician who relies on her diagnostic skills–these are all examples of intuitive craftspeople. Intuition, the sum total of our skill and our training, is the mark of someone to be reckoned with.

Process, on the other hand, appears to be for Dummies.

So we bristle when we’re asked for our weekly goals sheets, or when the boss wants us to use a database or when the insurance company requires docs to follow data-driven guidelines. We pass up the tenth novel by a successful author… because the process has become too transparent.

And yet, in many cases, process is underrated.

Process is your ace in the hole when your intuition stops working.

Process is the system that doubles a plant’s efficiency when you’ve done everything you can think of.

Take your web page (please). The intuitive marketer does her very best, and then conversion and traffic levels are established. That’s all.

Replace that with a process that measures and tests and improves and repeats and changes elements hourly. Replace it with a process that’s all about split testing and funnels and what works. Will a process like that invent MySpace or Flickr? Of course not. But it might very well turn your metrics from negative to positive. It might reinvent all the dynamics of your business.

What happens when a star salesperson starts tracking her calls, her time spent, her rolodex and her results? Her day isn’t intuitive any longer… just the act of selling is. The result: dramatic improvements. Measuring, and measuring in public, is a piece of process that can’t help but organize and leverage your intuition.

If process makes you nervous, it’s probably because it threatens your reliance on intuition. Get over it. The best processes leverage your intuition and give it room to thrive.