One of my pet peeves about processes is the way they turn people into control freaks. The processes are padlocked into place, and, in case their impenetrable language isn’t enough, they are surrounded by a virtual armed guard, guaranteeing that people are kept at arm’s length. It’s time we approached this in a radically different way.
The real process experts are the people who work with the processes – applying them, trying to make them fit the circumstances – every day. They know what works and what doesn’t, but we rarely ask them what they think. In most cases they are not allowed to make changes, to make the processes fit their needs better. In many cases it is made difficult for them even to suggest better ways of doing things. In those rare situations where they are at least consulted, their ideas are mediated and moderated, stewed over a low heat until most of the goodness has evaporated, and then eased with great caution and over extended periods of time into the precious system.
It’s time to let go and make it easy for the real experts to take control. The content of our processes now may be mostly right, but it is also usually late and most of the time roundly ignored. Process wikis would change all of that.
The wiki is the tool, familiar to us through Wikipedia, which gives everybody the power to make whatever changes they think best. Anyone with information to contribute to the sum of knowledge on a subject can add to it, right then and there, on the live entry. Changes are trackable and reversible, so it isn’t a complete free-for-all. I can see that, depending on your point of view, using wikis for processes will strike you as downright reckless or extremely exciting. The processes would be built on the combined wisdom of the people working with them day in and day out. They would be alive, organic, and able to evolve in a way that current mechanisms just don’t allow.