The next word in our language hierarchy of business systems is the word “Process”.
As we have done in the last two lessons, we will start with the definition of the word.
According the the New Oxford dictionary, a Process is “a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end”.
As before, this definition is nearly perfect as it is. It isn’t even too broad for our purposes.
The only change we will make is to remove the word “actions” because it is redundant (and because it doesn’t fit our language hierarchy and I’m a stickler for the little things, lol).
So our official definition of Business Processes is something like this:
There is one final point of clarification on this definition that will come when we start to define the last word in our hierarchy, Steps. There are different types of steps that allow us to build different types of processes. This distinction will become important when we get to our example later in this lesson.
Now that we have a good definition for what a process is, it’s time to talk a little about why this definition helps us build business systems later on down the road.
Just like the words “Systems” and “Workflows”, the first part of our definition, “A series of steps”, gives us the structure of our processes; and the second part of our definition, “taken in order to achieve a particular end”, gives us the purpose of our processes.
Those two pieces together give us a working understanding of how our processes will be build.
First, we know that a process is going to be build out as a series of steps. That’s the structure of a process.
Then, we know that those series of steps will be specifically designed in order to achieve a particular end. That’s the purpose of a process.
So each process will have a particular end that signifies the process is complete and ready to move onto the next stage of our workflows.
You might also notice that “Workflow” and “Process” have very similar definitions in that they both follow a series or sequence to achieve an outcome.
This is why they often get used, incorrectly, as interchangeable words when talking about business systems. The reason that is incorrect is because it doesn’t respect the hierarchy of the words and confuses their purpose in a business system.
This confusion is what keeps people from being able to successfully build business systems.
So with that nuance of language cleared up, let’s get back to processes.
Let’s continue our example from the last lesson about creating SOPs.
Our workflow for creating SOPs was built as a sequence of process. Let’s pick on of those processes and dive down a little to see how that process might be built.
You’ll recall from our example that the first process in our sequence was a process for transcribing the video so you have the text needed for the steps of a process.
In this example we already have our “particular end” that we need to achieve. Our particular end is “having the text needed for the steps of a process”.
All that’s left is to build the series of steps that will allow us to achieve that particular end.
So what might the steps be for this process?
This is where our clarification for the types of steps comes into play. For a process like this, we will be building out “Macro Steps”. We will define this for you in the next lesson. For now, let’s just describe what those macro steps might be for our process of getting a transcription.
Well first we might upload our recorded process to a transcription service like Otter.ai.
Second we might edit the returned transctiption for accuracy.
Third we might copy the final transcription into a team shared Google document.
And finally we might mark the process as completed in our project management system and move the “piece of work” onto the next process in our workflow.
At which point you would have a process that successfully follows a series of steps in order to achieve a particular end.
In our example, the particular end was having the transcribed text of a recorded process video and our series of steps helped us helped us achieve that end.
All that’s left now is to define the last word in our language hierarchy, which is the word “Steps”.
Defining this word will give us more clarity for the definition of processes and help us understand the actual work that needs to be done in order to create the component parts of our processes.
Join me in the next lesson where we will cover this word in depth.