How to create a process-driven culture?


We have successfully grow our company beyond the startup phase to the expansion phase. now, we're acquiring clients very fast and we need to swiftly and consistently train new members of our team.

We're starting to define our most important processes in paper. thus, we're figuring out:

How do you teach/incentivise your team members to check and follow a written process? How do you index/organise all your company processes in a easy way to find and use?

Business Process Team Organization Expanding

asked Aug 20 '13 at 00:43
Sd Reyes
156 points

3 Answers


Congratulations on the growth!

Start by... starting! I'd say that the steps are (1) figure out who's going to participate, (2) define your company overall and its objectives, (3) define the basic steps in meeting your customers' needs (these should be your processes), and (4) pick the 2 or 3 most relevant processes to define in more depth. (5) Try training someone based on what you create, and be prepared to tweak it so that it makes more sense. (6) Make someone on your team the 'owner' of the process, and give them the explicit responsibility to keep that process documentation up-to-date every XX months.

For teaching and incentivizing, there are plenty of ways you can try... figure out what works for the group you are working with. It basically comes down to 'what is measured is what gets done'. So if you're doing some kind of coding--don't mark a project as completed and delivered until the support documentation is updated. If you're doing manufacturing--don't count a job as 'delivered to the customer' or shipped until the shop is clean at the end of the day. Then it just turns into people management skills. Either give them a target and a bonus for the number of times they complete the process, (carrot) or yell at them if they don't meet their daily quota (stick).

I go into a little more depth on my list of points below:

As far as who to involve... there are some schools of organizational behavior that will say you need to have the documentation in place before you try to train people. Others will argue that it makes more sense to involve your existing employees in the process in order to capture "best practices". (I personally tend towards the latter.)

If your organization is small enough/compact enough that you personally (or other cofounders) know all of the ins-and-outs of the processes or want to change what is being done, then sitting down and mapping it out yourselves probably makes the most sense. If someone else has done a great job setting up the process, involve them.

Once you have decided who you're going to involve in the process, start by thinking about your company overall. The website has a pretty good (free) PDF that might help you to think through how your startup's business model works. All you're really trying to answer here is what need do you meet for your customer(s)?

When you're trying to identify your processes, simpler is better overall at this point. You're just trying to specify what you deliver to your customer, what you receive as 'raw materials', what you might use as tools, and what you do to the raw materials to transform them into what you deliver to your customer.

Pick the processes that are the most 'relevant' in that they either affect your customer's needs, or are the ones that you need to train new employees on. Pretty simple. Then try re-creating the end result of that process a few times and write down what is done.

You'll want to create some sort of step-by-step diagram or outline that includes the basic tasks an employee needs to execute in order to deliver the end result of the process. You can get as meticulous as you want--but that makes it hard to follow. Or you can keep it simple and trust your employees' training and common sense.

A good note is that if you keep it simpler, you can post it near the employees' workstations and it might make the process easy to follow, depending on what kind of work you guys are doing.

Once you've got it... you really should try it, and get feedback on how well your documentation works. That will be explicit (what the trained employees think), as well as implicit (watch to see whether it's actually working or not). And then it's just like shampooing... rinse and repeat. If you're not getting the desired results, maybe it's a communication gap. Maybe you didn't specify the right end result. Maybe you weren't clear enough in the work instructions.

Hopefully that's a start.

answered Aug 20 '13 at 23:04
255 points


The simplest way is to lead by example - you mention you are taking on new staff so make sure that al the existing staff (and especially management) walk the walk so people see it is not optional and it is how everyone does it.

Also don't just tell people what the process is but explain to them why it is important and even consider involving them in creating the processes as they (probably) know the job as well if not better than you and the management team. Getting their buy in and making them feel they were part of creating the process will make it much easier to get them to adhere to what you are creating or refining.

If a new person starts and sees others not bothering then they will think that is acceptable and follow their lead - for those current members of staff who are not following the process make sure you step on it now otherwise it will spread.

Be cautious though - I have worked in companies where the processes stifled totally innovation and removed an individuals ability to think and use common sense. Some processes work for some companies but it will not work for everyone.

answered Aug 20 '13 at 23:51
735 points


Exact same story happened 6 months back. We started growing at a very healthy rate and that posed bigger issues in front of us. The problem was, we were person dependent and wanted to move into process dependent or at least hybrid format. Do not try to force the process onto someone. Try to convince about the importance of the same.

Apart from this, please do identify the people who will be key in the process implementation. This is where we messed up a little. We tried to involve everyone. There was so much resistance to change that we would get frustrated very often. So the correct approach is to identify the people who will help you implement process. Convince them. Train them. Make sure that they are the ones who have good say in their teams, are senior and are serious towards making things better. These people if get convinced, they will make sure rest of the team members fall into line and start following processes.

Documentation is something which is an integral part of the process. This is where you will face maximum resistance. Keep faith, and be patient. Just keep insisting on process and do not accept the updates without documents. Automatically people will start following. They would soon get used to it, and would start appreciating the importance of the same.

Keep your processes simple and flexible. Adapt to your organization's and project's needs. If you want to go by word of book, I can assure you nothing will work.

All the best!! Process driven companies are far better shaped than others.

answered Aug 21 '13 at 00:08
Nitin Srivastava
171 points
  • "All the best!! Process driven companies are far better shaped than others." totally agree – Sd Reyes 8 years ago

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