A Word About Process

THE IDES OF JUNE 2018

Aloha;

Our modern world works as well as it does, in part, because we have developed various systems for investigation, organization, and production; which makes managing and ordering our society, easier and more efficient.  Since there are always pressures to accomplish as much as a workday will allow, we regularly seek ways to better control our environment to maximize our results.  Complex objectives, and labor intensive projects (such as the production and distribution of the societal needs for food, and electricity), have been broken down into a series of controllable, manageable, orderly. and repeatable steps.

As we explore, and perfect, these processes to make them as beneficial and reliable as is possible, we often come to depend on them to the extent that they  are reflexively adopted into our daily outlook, until they are seen as automatic (and preferred), solutions for how given obstacles, or problems, are properly addressed; and resolved. To the extent the use of these standardized systems of behavior improve the human condition, they generate a positive benefit; both for individuals as well as for society at large.  The incorporation of these processes, over time, are an important, and ongoing aspect of our cultural development.

When systems are designed to better automate various industrial functions, their stated goal is seldom (if ever) to just eliminate the need for employees; yet that is often a part of the result.  When new processes are developed which use resources more efficiently; which in turn markedly reduces the need to acquire, and store a given amount of material, the stated goal is not to give the supplier less business; but that may well be a likely outcome.  When our society created, and deployed a world-wide network of communication satellites; our stated goal was not to get rid of telephone booths; still that has been one of the effects.

It is generally agreed that these processes are in the main, beneficial, and desirable; and produce positive results.  It has been unfortunate for us to discover, first hand, that in our society, processes are sometimes co-opted;   and diverted from their stated aims to pursue other goals.  The pervasive degree to which some processes have been transformed into corporate or political tools; and used for the secondary (and sometimes primary) purpose of misleading, disenfranchising, or controlling others; is as pernicious as it is destructive.

This unexpected attribute of the nature of process most often impacts people who are unaware of, or financially incapable of, assuring the rights which are purportedly theirs from birth; as a hallmark of their citizenship in our society.  On some occasions these abuses of process are a calculated attempt to negatively impact targeted individuals.  Yet it would seem that in many, if not most instances; there  is no goal to proactively assault any given person.  But inherent in the nature of how people may apply a given process, dwells the opportunity for errors, missteps or unintended consequences to occur.

Processes are not alive, and have no personal desires, or agendas.  When they are operated in a rote, or thoughtless manner, it leaves open the possibility for great harm.  Should a hospital have a process for how much time should be spend with each patient, during, or following a shift change; mindless, or pedantic adherence to that procedure may not serve every patient well. 

Even if there is no malice, or ill will among the staff.  When process does not allow for, or consider, the likelihood of unexpected or unusual circumstances; damage may be done unless someone is there to monitor the process, to assure that does not happen.

If a school has a process for how students will be evaluated, to ascertain their current achievement level, and track their academic progress over the course of the school year; rote compliance with that process may well fail to address all students educational needs, or challenges.  Again, processes are systems people create to get things done, and without oversight, and care, the chance to fulfill its’ mission may be lost.  The result, for the student, can be frustrating, and defeating; leading to an unproductive, or counterproductive, educational experience; and a wasted academic school year.

When a county establishes processes for regulating and managing land, and property, within its corporate limits; the stated goal of that activity, as we understand it, is to manage, protect, develop and maintain accurate records of that county, and the assets over which it has charge.  Among a county’s many duties are assessing property value, collecting property taxes, and the control and oversight of abandoned land. 

With the additional responsibilities, such as keeping its’ community safe; a county may set up a process for claiming, and regulating abandoned properties, and demolishing discarded houses.  Processes such as these are good, and necessary, for helping to support a healthy community.

What is not healthy however, is allowing that process to become rigid, and inflexible, regardless of human circumstance.  When process  can allow  for a senior couple, a veteran and his family, to have their home declared abandoned, even though they are living in it.  Then remove them from their  home and set them out on the street.  This over a ten thousand dollar delinquent tax bill; without allowing an opportunity to repay. 

It suggests to us that the stated purpose of the process being employed is perhaps not representative of the wishes of the community at large.  At the very least the management of this process is  insensitive; if not arbitrary, and heavy-handed.  As mentioned earlier, it is unfortunate that this blind force can foment these kind of outcomes; but it is an example of what happens when processes are left to run, unchecked.

Respectfully Yours,

J. A. Stubbs, Editor-In-Chief

Forgotten Lore Publishing, llc