Process vs Capabilities


We don't talk enough about capabilities.  In response to the article by Joe Pomales on   Let me share a story with you....two people are following the same process...wouldn't you agree the person with the best capabilities and skill-sets will have the best outcome? We spend countless hours on process, but the real differentiator tends to be capability and skill. ITIL methodologies and process provide a great framework to do work efficiently but capabilities shorten the timeline and increase the quality of the outcome.

A great process does not keep one from documenting the project correctly.  Or promise a timely resolution.  The real reason I believe process finds itself as a part of the discussion lies in the fact that process is scalable.  For a company to really grow, processes are necessary to make sure that all team members are performing tasks in a similar way.  Can you imagine if a company with a service desk fixed a recurring trouble ticket 6 different ways?  We laugh and shake our heads but this happens all over the place to companies large and small.  In addition to scalability, process makes sure that critical things like documentation takes place.  This is probably the most overlooked and underutilized task in any business unit within any organization.  The amount of re-work is unbelievable within the average organization, simply because changes or knowledge bases weren't recorded in documentation.  Sounds very similar to a hamster wheel.  Its like going on a run and feeling like you were already there once before, maybe even deja vu?  For teams to be productive and complete the most efficient work, documentation is a must.  I think its fair to say that the average worker bee can't stand documenting changes or tasks.  

Capabilities are features of a particular worker that set him/her a part from other workers.  Yes, there can be two people with similar capabilities.  But can a whole division have similar capabilities, ones that set them a part from other divisions?  I mentioned earlier a scenario where two people understand and have knowledge of the exact same processes for accomplishing a task.  Lets say the task is assembling a table from IKEA.  Both people understand the process and can read directions on how to assemble the table.  By the way, assembling an IKEA can be brutal with all the parts, the directions have no words, just pictures, etc.  Worker 1 is methodical paying attention to each step carefully.    But slow...oh my goodness slow.  Slow and deliberate at piecing the table together.  Still following process but at a snails pace.  This guy does not really enjoy the job and would prefer to work at Starbucks.  But it pays okay and has good benefits.  Still following process but at a snails pace.  Worker 2 is quick to move through the directions.  Not only is worker 2 experienced but he also loves furniture.  So in a weird way this is fun.  He sees this as an art form.  He flies through page 1, page 2, and before you know it, has a majority of the table put together.  If this is an assembly line, which worker would you want on your team?  The slow deliberate worker, or the fast paced worker who feels passionate about the process.  One is definitely more capable than the other.  Both make tables that are sturdy and server their function.  From a production perspective, worker 2 is more capable of producing a higher number of tables, and therefore more ideal to have on the team.  

Lumberg Process.jpg

There are many examples of this in the IT space.  On the service desk, there are many employees who know process, how to open tickets, find resolution, use the knowledge base, etc.  But the real differentiator at this level is the specific capabilities of that person.   How quickly can they resolve the problem?  Can they use the knowledge base effectively to find answers to problems they have never seen?  Is documentation a part of the process and how well are things documented?

In my opinion, process should be built and trained into each and every employee.  The individual training around capabilities is not discussed and encouraged enough.   This is the magic sauce in the whole conversation.  Where things come to life and new paths to a solution are forged.  Think about it, when you are meeting with a customer and they ask you to talk about your company, do you talk about the process or your capabilities?