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September 1, 2023

Misfit vs. 10X Processes

Table of Contents

As teams scale, the role of "Process" becomes a central topic, eliciting both strong support and vehement opposition. Processes can sometimes feel burdensome and ineffective, yet they're indispensable for seamless growth and concerted progress. The challenge lies in distinguishing between good and bad processes and finding the equilibrium between the need for consistency and the freedom to innovate. To unravel this, let's first examine the pitfalls that make processes cumbersome and prone to failure.

Navigating the 9 Stages of Process Failure

  • - Identifiable Gap: Typically emerges from a negative business outcome.
  • - Codification: Stakeholders collaborate to formalize a communication, workflow, or hybrid process.
  • - Initial Benefits: Initial implementation yields positive results and a sense of normalcy.
  • - Grandfathering: Process persists despite new business cases.
  • - Inadequacy Emerges: Process proves unfit for evolving business needs.
  • - Change Advocacy: Leaders of new cases advocate process change, often met with resistance.
  • - Institutionalization Hurdle: Advocating change becomes difficult if the process is entrenched.
  • - Conformity: Leader conforms business case to the existing process, causing misfits.
  • - Suboptimal Outcomes: Misfit processes lead to suboptimal business results.

In the rapidly expanding business landscape, numerous new business cases arise daily, causing teams to traverse these 9 stages repeatedly. Put simply, what works for a small group might not suit a larger one.

Mismatched Processes vs. Amplifying Processes

All processes aren't created equal; there's no such thing as an inherently good or bad process. Processes either mismatch the specific business context or possess the potential to exponentially enhance efficiency, output, or cost-effectiveness by 10 times.

The Perception Quadrant of New Processes

Introducing a new process typically triggers skepticism or optimism among teams. This fresh process could either end up being a misfit or a 10X enhancer.

Initially, skepticism prevails when a new process is introduced, especially if imposed from a centralized decision-making point. Engineering managers might initially resist the new process's applicability to their unique business context, either accurately or erroneously. The possibility exists that the new process could indeed amplify their outcomes tenfold, but uncertainty clouds their judgment.

The fate of this advocacy depends on the organization's openness to change. If past processes were met with skepticism and proved misfits, subsequent decisions will be met with even more doubt. This breeds a damaging culture and suboptimal outcomes, a phenomenon all too common.

Striving for Consistent 10X Processes

The solution lies in Continuous Adaptability Driven by Actionable Data.

Actionable Data:

Every introduced process requires instrumented data to gauge whether it's a 10X boost or a misfit. Examples include:

  • Non-Rubber Stamped PR Reviews: Expected improvements in defect rates and lead times.
  • Automated Test Case Integration: Initial lead time decrease followed by a dramatic increase upon automating 75% of cases.

Technical Debt Sprint Introduction: Improved defect rates, reduced support tickets, and heightened customer NPS scores due to enhanced communication.

Products like Harness Software Engineering Insights can provide actionable insights for testing process effectiveness.

Continuous Adaptability:

Statements like "It's always been done like this" or "Other teams are doing it this way" reflect adaptability struggles. While standardization can be effective or not, continuous adaptability, data utilization, and questioning the "why" become potent tools to manage process edge cases. Leaders must recognize when existing processes falter for new contexts and iterate promptly.

The gravest error is halting process iteration, leading to institutionalization and forgetting the process's initial purpose.

In Conclusion

  • Processes aren't intrinsically good or bad.
  • Processes fit or mismatch specific use cases.
  • New processes trigger skepticism, given past misfits.
  • Teams must be continuously adaptable and iterative.
  • Leverage actionable data for process assessment.
  • Utilize tools like Harness SEI for insights.
  • Strive for adaptability-driven success.

To explore Harness SEI's capabilities, consider scheduling a quick demo.

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