Purpose vs. Process

 

 

Purpose Stock Photo

 

 

If we have spent any time together at all, you have heard me tell about my experience nearly 25 years ago with Dr. W. Edwards Deming considered

to be the father of quality.  He shared two principles with me that are essential for every organization to grasp:

  1. 94% of success is in the system.
  2. You must have constancy of purpose.

 

I was reminded twice of the delicate balance between those two principles.

 

  • An office manager remarked to me that their front office team had stropped using the ToPS New Patient Relationship Form because “it was taking too long to fill in all the blanks.” In other words, process had taken over purpose. We’ve always said that the purpose is to “create a happy paying patient…” . That is the foundation. The purpose is not to fill in all the blanks on a form. The process is to help everyone fulfill the purpose, not the other way around.
  • It’s no secret about the struggle American Airlines had a few years ago, where they encountered bankruptcy, pilots union contract problems, pilots grounding planes in retaliation, 20% of flights being cancelled, etc. Do you remember that what a mess that was? But imagine the horror of a passenger during that week who showed up to their departing flight 15 minutes before departure and the gate agent would not let them board because she had closed the flight and she had to get the closure process done. She was being so efficient in the process, she forgot the purpose of the process in the first place…create happy customers who get to their desired destination.

 

Every process should serve the purpose…in that order:  Purpose first, process second.  There is no number of processes that can account for every eventuality.  That’s why the purpose drives the system.

 

Keep your organizational purpose firmly imbedded in the hearts and minds of everyone on your team.  The purpose is not to follow the system.  The system should always help everyone fulfill the purpose.  Stay purpose driven.

 

 

 

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