A Process Mindset

If you want to research how to be a successful NBA franchise, you need to review the history of the Los Angeles Lakers. Yet, it is the run in the 1980s that is most intriguing to me as an organization.  With the retirement of Jerry West and Wilt Chambertain  in the 1970s, many people probably wrote them off.  Even with acquiring 7 footer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Lakers couldn’t duplicate their past success.

However, the Lakers started building the framework for a future success. This process included selecting a young 6-9 point guard from Michigan State named Earvin “Magic” Johnson in the NBA draft.  With visionary coach Pat Riley, the franchise surrounded their 7 footer with much talent, including James Worthy, Spencer Haywood, Michael Cooper, and Jamaal Wilkes.

However, winning required All Star talent to become role players and swallow their egos so that they could win as a team, instead of individuals. This process thinking was successful. The 1980s Lakers, known as ‘Showtime” due to their electrifying performances, won five championships in a nine year span, including beating their rivals, the Celtics, several times in key games. Like the Lakers, organizations need a process for success.

If I could be a fly on the wall during student evaluations, I know my students would note that Professor Green is overly obsessed with process thinking. In fact, I even have a process for naming files for submission.  In a world that often promotes free thinking and spontaneity, some folks may believe that process thinking is too rigid to be used in an uncertain future.  On the contrary, having a process-oriented mindset will help organizations navigate the future. In this discussion, we will explore how a process mindset provides a competitive advantage during this economic crisis.

Being  process-orient is important in today hypercompetitive environment. High performance organizations in America understand that excellence does not happen by chance. Understanding one’s processes is vital. A process can be defined as “any activity or group of activities that takes an input, adds values to it, and provides to an internal or external customer.  Some of America’s shine across the globe has been taken for granted the small things in operations. 

H. James Harrington, author of Process Improvement notes, “We have taken a fine worldwide reputation and destroyed….We lost the important customer advantage, and each day our reputation worsens because our competition is improving more rapidly than we are.”  J. Davidson Frame, author of the New Project Management, further argues that organizations must evolve their processes. Frame notes, “Thus models contribute to the management of complexity by reducing the requirement for understanding a process in all of its details. They permit people to focus on the consequences of actions without having to understand their intricacies.”  Therefore, having a process mindset will have a greater impact on an organization’s effectiveness in the near future.

How can organizations more effectively utilize a process-oriented mindset in order to better compete in the future?

© 2011 by Daryl D. Green