- Joseph Rasmus
- Read Time: 2 mins
This essay builds on a previous post about The Dropped Ball Thought Experiment.
More than a mile below the ocean’s surface, a squid searches for its next meal. No light penetrates to this depth but large, specially adapted eyes enable the squid to hunt in the deep. It scans the abyss, spots a glowing orb and decides to investigate.
The squid fixates on the light source as it approaches. Engrossed by the fluorescent appendage, it fails to spot the attached monstrosity. An anglerfish lunges from the dark and snaps the squid up in her powerful jaws.
Like the fluorescent lure dangling in the dark, Outcomes are more visible to the naked eye than Process.
Outcomes occur at a fixed point in time. They are expressed via clearly defined, commonly used metrics. We know where to find them: a scoreboard, a quarterly earnings report, a market share analysis.
Process, by contrast, is fluid and ongoing. There is not a clearly defined moment to analyze for success and failure. Process requires constant review and adjustment.
The Dropped Ball Thought Experiment illustrates this contrast well. The Outcome Focused coach immediately fixates on the Outcome failure with little to no work. The Process Driven coach requires the aid of replay to comb through the moments preceding the drop. The Process Driven approach requires additional labor and resources (i.e. live game film, review software, a laptop, time, etc.).
Taking this lesson – the necessity of time and resource investment to observe, analyze, and improve Process – from the sports context to a workplace context is not straightforward. In the sports world, Process is documented on video. Most workplaces do not videotape their processes. Many processes are not physical – like the act of catching a ball – and are therefore impossible to catch on camera.