The Law of Process

Respect the Law of Process. It never happens in a day.

A few years ago, back when I believed that life had neither meaning nor purpose, I saw no point in consciously creating or refining processes in any area of my life. Although I was aware that my father had achieved his incredible success in business through a combination of hard work and talent— amplified through solid and scalable processes— I personally never saw the point.

I have since come to believe that life has meaning, and I now feel that I have found my purpose. I have also become incredibly concerned with process. A large part of the reason for this relates to the book that I’m writing about my dad. I’m collecting 99 brief stories about him from those who had close relationships with him.

Remaining organized while writing this book is an incredible challenge. My intuition and common sense tell me that the quality and ultimate success of this book depends on me maintaining a high level of organization. And I know that this organization must be founded on a great process, and the discipline to stick to it.

My team at Miller Inspiration and I need to keep track of literally thousands of items, such as the names and contact info of hundreds of potential story contributors, which of these contributors we have already contacted, which ones have already contributed stories and which ones have committed to do so. Once we get stories, we need to track those that require editing, and which ones we’ve selected for final publication.

We also need to track a large number of minor (but highly important details) such as which contributors have not yet signed a letter of release allowing us to publish their stories, who we still need to send thank you cards to, and who we still owe copies of the book. There’s a lot to keep track of!

As I searched for ways to make this book-development process easier and better, I came across a blog post written by an entrepreneur named Marty Hu called A Startup’s Guide to Time Hacking. Although it’s written for early-stage entrepreneurs, it contains useful wisdom for just about anyone in business. Marty writes about creating great processes as a way to achieve a “Superlinear return on organizational productivity.” (Don’t worry— it’s not as MBA-ish as it sounds.)

Marty tells us, “As a founder or employee on behalf of a product business, it is your job to create systems and processes to improve the way in which things are done.” He encourages us to “Be process, not outcome oriented.” Focusing on the process over the outcome reminds me of Mother Teresa’s words: “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”

Marty goes on to say, “Because processes repeat, you can improve them. You can complete them in less time and (through documentation and/or analytics) develop methods for making them yield better outcomes. When something happens over and over again, any incremental improvement is multiplied by each consecutive execution. This can equate to big long-term wins for your organization.”

Although I absolutely want to write an exceptional book (my outcome), I’m focusing on all the little things that are required to simply make the book a reality (the process), and doing each one as well as I can. This approach has not only given me the confidence that I can  complete this project, it has also helped me to see the reality of Henry Ford’s insight that “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.”

It’s hard for me to believe that there was ever a time that I ignored process. Today I’m having a lot of fun working with my team at Miller Inspiration to implement and refine processes both as we write a book about my dad and in every area of our business. And I’m doing it with great love.