Process is an embedded reaction to prior stupidity.

Read this post by Chad Dickerson, CTO of Etsy. It’s a fascinating perspective on building a culture of constant improvement, taking risks, supporting growth and trusting your team.

He mentions a perspective on process that I find particularly fascinating. Organizations often fear failure when repeated failure is what often leads to the most spectacular creations.

The quote is brilliant, true most of the time, though not universally so. There are good processes, but even more bad ones solely built to prevent failure, processes that stifle innovation.

Process is an embedded reaction to prior stupidity. When I was CTO of a web design firm, I noticed in staff meetings that we only ever talked about process when we were avoiding talking about people. “We need a process to ensure that the client does not get half-finished design sketches” is code for “Greg fucked up.” The problem, of course, is that much of this process nevertheless gets put in place, meaning that an organization slowly forms around avoiding the dumbest behaviors of its mediocre employees, resulting in layers of gunk that keep its best employees from doing interesting work, because they too have to sign The Form Designed to Keep You From Doing The Stupid Thing That One Guy Did Three Years Ago.

- Clay Shirky

Hat tip to Chad Dickerson for the amazing post, one of the best I’ve ever read.

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