Process over outcome equals long term success

Don’t get hung up on the outcome as long as the process is beneficial.

Ever wonder why a decision was made or an outcome that led to failure was allowed by an organization’s leadership? Ever thought that you never would have made that decision? Ever questioned if the decision maker even had a clue?

To better describe the decision making process, otherwise known simply as the process, let us explore what that really means. Some view the process as a long, drawn out, academic formula of charts, brainstorms, focus groups, logic models and a fancy presentation that gives a few recommendations. Some view it as simply allowing a group to move in a direction to experience what works and does not. Some simply view a process as a short discussion.

Process can be defined as “a series of actions or operations conducing to an end” according to Mirriam-Webster Dictionary Online . In other words, it’s the steps taken to make a decision.

Let’s explore how this can be applied. If a group or organization experienced a failure and did nothing to modify that experience, then the process did not fully play out. Important to every decision is the review and critical evaluation of what has occurred. For example, let’s take the New Coke launch in the 1980’s. The company tried to change their product to capture market share and be more competitive. This strategy was sound, tested and backed by quantitative data. However, when executed, they not only alienated their loyal customer base, but they also failed to gain the customer base they were targeting. Needless to say, the old formula was re-released as Coca-Cola Classic. This is a case where the process proved to be much more important than the initial outcome.

In order to grow, we all need to experience a certain level of failure. The key is not to fear failure, rather to embrace its existence and work diligently to avoid it, however when a failure occurs, evaluate, learn, and identify alternative(s) to improve. As Winston Churchill put it, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Learning to embrace the process over the outcome will allow solid learning and growth, both personally and professionally. For leadership and facilitation training, Michigan State University Extension offers programs and workshops to suit your needs. One such training is the upcoming three day Facilitative Leadership workshop being offered in March and September of 2013.