Looking at the Process

Looking at the ProcessWhen writing a resume or prepping a client for a job interview, I am constantly asking my clients about the end results from their work. I hope they don’t grow tired of my probing questions:

“What efficiencies were gained?”
“How did the company achieve its goals by your activity on X project?”
“What were the cost savings to your department?”
“Why did productivity increases matter your organization?”
“How did this initiative add value?”

For all the focus on the final outcomes, it’s important to not forget about the benefits that are realized from the process itself.

Transferability of techniques to other projects. The work you are doing now is transitory; all projects eventually come to an end. But the lessons that come from a successful project include the way you did something that led to the success. Not only can the methods that you used in one project be applied to another, but they could also result in changes to policies and procedures across the department or the entire company.

Learning what doesn’t work. When you mess up, it’s tempting to take it all and throw it in the trash. The thing is, mistakes have just as much value as successes if you take the time to reflect on why something went wrong and then ensure that you don’t repeat the mistake. If you don’t take the time to consider what problems you had in the process, there’s a good chance you may repeat them in this and other projects.

Feeling a sense of accomplishment. You know how you feel when you have put forth a tremendous effort. Exhausted. Spent. And totally thrilled at what you just did. Those feelings last for a while, right? But think about how you would feel if your successes come without much effort. Sure, there would be a momentary excitement, but how long would it last? Not very long because there is a disconnect between the process and the success. There also is not as much appreciation when things come together. In this case, success becomes an expectation.

Going on to bigger and better things. “It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.” That quote by Theodore Roosevelt highlights the value in the process of achieving something. In essence, he is saying that the process toward success is what allows you to advance. That makes sense — as we experience a process, we can gain insight into our likes and dislikes, and ultimately, the directions we want to go in for our careers.

How else can slowing down to look at the process benefit your career?

Image courtesy of Ian Liu

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