Goldilocks & the 3 Process Options
Finding the right level of process and structure is a tough line to walk for every company. Too much structure can hinder the creative flow - too little and the creativity can run rampant without producing any results.
In my time as a middle school teacher, process overcomplicated the job. Weekly lesson plans were copied in triplicate, never to be seen by anyone but myself. Hours were spent tirelessly preparing Individual Education Plans (IEPs) for special needs students, only to have a parent or principal disregard the instructions or launch into a endless barrage of unnecessary changes. While the intent of the structure is to protect educators, the reality is the bureaucracy prevents creativity and personalized instruction in the classroom.
On the flip side, too little structure can be difficult as well. Working as an operations director for a budding nonprofit, I enjoyed the control that came with building my own processes. However, that level of freedom was also limiting. A lack of boundaries meant processes could become too broad or esoteric.
From my short time with the company, I've found Metal Toad staff are very aware of this thin line between too much or too little structure. Each department takes the time to reflect on current processes and their effectiveness, with everyone having an opportunity to provide input. As a result, changes are the result of a consensus from the team. Additionally, the discussions create a narrative for future training, allowing new employees to understand the background of how and why the structure exists. My training has involved a few different handbooks resulting from these discussions that provide a great deal of insight into the MTM way, but without bogging me down in a set way to do it.
It's been a long journey, but I think I've finally found the process option that's just right.