As seen in:
hackernews featureDesigner news featureDesigner news feature

Natural Selection in Process Improvement

written by JIBRAN EL BAZI |
TABLE OF CONTENTS

We are continually improving processes wherever we go. To highlight this, I even wrote about seeing everything as a process.

In this article, I want to show the value of natural selection (through trial and error) on process improvement. And to avoid boring you to death with abstractions, I want you to indulge me in a little story.

Specifically, I will tell a short story about farmer John's Wife, Erica, and her son Andy.

No time to waste

This family of three has one peculiar quirk; they cannot read the time. Not on a clock, not on a sundial, not even with an hourglass.

In all other matters, the family is pretty typical, no other weird magical quirks anyway.

The family always gets up when the rooster crows, which happens at the same moment every morning. John goes to work on the field virtually immediately, and won't show his face until lunchtime. 

Erica, John's wife, has to get Andy ready for school. Specifically, for the school bus that comes to pick up Andy. 

The school bus arrives at the same time in front of their house every day like clockwork (pun very much intended).

But remember, the family can't read time, though Andy still needs to be ready to get on the bus all clothed, fed, and with his backpack packed.

How do Andy and his mother do this? How do they know when Andy has to go outside and walk to the bus stop?

Well, they have a process they work through. A process where, if Erica and Andy go through all the steps in order, in the same way they did last time, they know they'll be finished right on time for the bus.

This process wasn't very effective at first. Very ineffective even. The first few times, Andy was too late for the bus. Other times there were moments he was way too early, having to wait for the bus in the cold for a long time.

But eventually, through changing both the order and amount of their morning tasks, they found a set of steps- a process- that worked very effectively. So effective, that they could rely on working through the process as a means of being on time.

What do we learn from Erica and Andy?

Erica and Andy didn't know WHEN to do tasks, but they did know WHAT tasks.  After a method of trial and error, they found the right order for all their tasks.

Now they don't even have to look at the time, because they have a process that works.

Lesson 1 - Have a goal

I use this story to drive home the point that not knowing "when the bus comes" is OK. As in, we are not sure at the beginning of any venture of what works and what doesn't. So it is best to try out a lot of things and see what steps help you get closer to a goal.

And that is precisely why having a goal is essential, even if you don't reach it, you have something on which to focus. A direction to which you can work. And you "solve" your process towards that outcome.

Lesson 2 - Don't be afraid to fail

A second, but related, reason is that we should not be scared to fail.

We can't know when an opportunity (or bad luck) strikes. We can only try out things, again and again, to see what works.

That's why successful entrepreneurs preach like gospel, "you have to fail forward." Meaning you should not be afraid to fail. Better is to even thrive in the act of failing because you learn something, which you can then use for your next process.

Concluding

We learned that we could look at everything as a process. We saw that processes could be improved when a clear outcome is defined. And that you should not be afraid to experiment with different parts of a process (to change it).

What is your tried and tested morning process? What other procedures do you go through diligently in your life? Feel free to share them! :)

FOOTNOTES
More articles on this topic

I was inspired by Joe Pulizzi - he talks about creating excellent content - so I made a mega checklist to help you go through your content.

Read more...

Write. Lift. Repeat. Every day I write. Every day I lift weights. The next day I repeat. Simple as that. #WriteLiftRepeat. Of course you can do something different than lifting weights. Like running, keto-diet, cooking, sleeping well, etc. Want to join the Challenge of #WriteXRepeat?

Read more...

Learn how to use (30-day) personal challenges as a system to really improve your life.

Read more...

So I went to Joe with the plan to have a short chat to get to know him. That small chat turned out to be a three-hour conversation!

Read more...

I recently took an effort to consciously improve my writing. Julian Shapiro has an amazing resource. Here are my notes.

Read more...

That's why successful entrepreneurs preach like gospel, "You have to fail forward." Meaning you should not be afraid to fail.

Read more...

We're busy. So busy, we feel stressed. Is there a way to do all the things we want to do in our 'busy-ness,' but without stress? I think so.

Read more...

My dad frequently knew the route from memory, but I was eager to follow along on the map (and point out a quicker or alternative route).

Read more...

Like a flywheel, your life or business also captures energy that you can use to bring about change.

Read more...

Do you want to change or improve things in your life, business, or community? How is looking at all things as a process help? Let's find out!

Read more...

"When I'm really into the idea or topic, I regularly get out my notebook and start jotting down ideas or even an outline for the article to be written. During which I get ideas for other blog posts, which I then add to my ever-growing list of ideas."

Read more...

An atomic unit of production rarely lets you fall off the track, and when you do, it's super easy to get back on. Why? Because your unit of production is so clearly defined, small, and familiar, the threshold is low to start again.

Read more...

Want to Know Your Creative Potential?

[Free Quiz]

Join other creatives—entrepreneurs, artists, freelancers, and online creators—in learning about your strong and weak spots in your creative practice.

You'll receive a personalized report in your inbox that shows you your current "score" in four different areas:

  • your authentic voice.
  • your creative mindset.
  • your creative practice or business.
  • your connection to others through your creative expression.
Take My quiz & find out

What others think about my writing

"Lovely, Jibran. 💜 I hope you are not wrong about me."

Eyal Shay

Host of Deep Dive Podcast

"enlightened localist family man vibes"

Orpheas

Writer, Thinker

"Thank you for this piece, Jibran. I really needed it today. 🙏"

Nicola T

Writer of Surrender Now