Some people crave a process — others hate it!

My last post about routines created some interesting dialogue so I decided to explore this further. I know that Grace is better with a consistent routine, but as was pointed out to me, many people like variety in their day. For individuals who want autonomy and independence, a rigid environment will create frustration and burnout.

This past weekend, I had a fascinating conversation with two people in the health care industry on this topic. We were talking about the pros and cons of standardized processes that are designed to ensure the highest quality of care. If a procedure is too rigid, it might have the potential to get in the way of delivering the best care. However, if there are evidence-based protocols that prove superior results over other processes, it would be detrimental not to follow them. The challenge is to create a structure that allows flexibility; two diametrically opposed concepts. It gets more complicated when we realize that some people crave a process, others hate it!

Take the surgical checklist, for example. The World Health Organization endorses a standardized checklist for all surgeries, to ensure that some fairly basic items are covered, such as making sure you have the right patient and are about to operate on the correct body part. There are impressive statistics that prove a reduction in avoidable errors when using the checklist, so it seems like a no-brainer. Yet it has not been easy to implement the use of the checklist in many surgical rooms. Why? There were lots of reasons, including a sense of lost autonomy, and feeling like a simple validation task became onerous.

It is common for people who aren’t process-oriented to think of systems as a waste of time. So when we institute processes in the workforce, we have to be clear about the time needed versus return on investment. And we have to take into consideration the personal needs of those who will be required to follow them. What’s the risk if they don’t adhere to the process? For those who don’t like the feeling of being boxed in, they need to understand the bigger picture and impact they are having by following – or not following – the process.

I’d be interested to hear examples of routines that are beneficial to your work. When do they stifle creativity? Or when does a routine, or structured process, create the best outcome? What are the underlying characteristics that make them advantageous?

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