Process: Defined by Beginning and End

In the last entry, we discussed the three characteristics of all processes. In this and the next two posts, we will expand the understanding of process that is foundational to all instructional communication activities.

1. A process in all cases has a defined beginning and end.

This may seem obvious, but the fact that any given process can be defined by a beginning point and an end point allows for the process to be isolated for the purpose of defining and describing, as well as for training individuals to perform the process.

Is “driving a forklift” a process? The answer is “no,” because there is no defined beginning or end to “driving a forklift.” That does not mean that forklift driving is incidental, but it does mean that for the purpose of training and qualification, I must treat forklift driving differently than if it were a process. (In fact, it would be treated as a skill, as we will discuss in a future post.)

While “driving a forklift” does not fit the definition of process, an activity within which a forklift is used will likely be a process. For example, “moving boxes from the warehouse to the packaging area” is a process, because the activity hasa defined beginning and end. As a result, we can train an individual to perform this activity, ensuring instruction in all aspects of the activity, with the understanding that acquiring the skill (forklift driving) is a pre-requisite to the actvity.

A defined beginning and end places boundaries around the process. This becomes very important when a problem occurs (safety or quality incident, for example). If a process problem has occurred, we can investigate in a narrow range of activity, defined by the boundaries of the process. This allows us to focus directly on the process and zero in on the  problems in relation to the process, and then work toward identifying causes for the problem (we will have much to say on this subject in future posts).

In our next post, we will look at the second distinctive of all processes, that there is one current-state best way to perform the process. Until then, remember that enterprise excellence is contingent on process excellence.

Thanks for reading,

Mr. Procedure

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About Tim James "Mr. Procedure"

A communicator; all-purpose capability in writing, designing and presenting training for all facets of organizational function. While my focus has been manufacturing, my training/development experience includes supervisory and lead person development, audit processes, continuous improvement and Lean, and Quality Management System implementation.
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