Is process a single or double line?

A couple of weeks ago, a potential client and I were on a call. This client came to us via a blog post I had written back in 2015. The client is based in the United States of America, and we were on a call at an odd hour.

The potential project we were discussing involves working with 10 country heads and getting each of them ready to tell the company’s forward story, i.e., post-pandemic story, within their respective countries.

During the conversation, the client asked, “What is your process for coming up with the forward story?”  My response was, “I have story knowledge and expertise, but for a project like this you shouldn’t have a process because the 10 country heads each based in different countries have different challenges. A lot depends on who needs what. What I can do is to show you how I have worked with someone else on a forward story.” I then shared all the Forward Story work I had done for my clients.

By this time, the 30-minute call had become a 70-minute call. The client ended the call by saying, “I am speaking to experts all around the world this week, and we will let you know our decision in the next week or so.”

Last week, the client awarded the project to us. I was keen to understand the reasons behind the client’s choice.  So I asked the client , ” Why did you choose to work with us, we are not even in the same country as your leaders?”

The client’s response was, “Every other person we spoke to had a process, template, method and structure in place. A huge amount of focus was on automation of the process to drive the outcome, but in your case we felt that our leaders would be regarded as individuals (with different challenges) and the solution would be customised for each country, as you had done for other clients. You have guidelines, knowledge and expertise, but you are not stuck in the process to the extent that you fail to see our unique identities.”

I have always believed in a process, and I also believe in catering to unique needs and solutions which require you to step back, divorce the process for a bit and analyse what is required. To me a process is a double line which gives you an ability to shift things within those lines.

A process can’t possibly be a single line in connection economy because that would be akin to making a product in a factory not creating connections with humans who are all different.

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