Crisis Emerges Out of Process

(Not Out of Nowhere)

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A couple of years ago our work faced a crisis. A particular role had high turnover, highly transitional temp staff, and a huge day to day impact on our operations. #constantcrisis.

At the end of the day, we built ourselves into a crisis.

“Crises emerge out of processes, not out of nowhere”

– John Stackhouse.

When I look back, our processes let us down. I knew this slightly; at the time, we dealt with some internal processes to help stem the turnover. Yet we failed to see the bigger picture of the crisis built on processes.

We structured ourselves into a hole.

How many of us walk through crises which could be avoided (certainly lessened in impact) if we learned to adjust our processes?

Look at how major airlines went through the wringer on customer service last year. Why? “Airline Policy” “Usual Practices” “It’s a standard procedure when…”

For airlines, their crisis emerged out of process.

So what are you facing?

As Christmas draws nearer, a lot of people start thinking about getting away from the office. We anticipate delegating a few things and heading off. We just hope there is no crisis like last year.

For others, there is no chance of time away. “10 years we’ve gone without a break,” I heard one small business owner say recently. It’s a crisis built of process (where the process involves everyone coming to one person).

When people talk about a leadership crisis, they’re usually saying “our processes have failed us and we are caught out.” It doesn’t happen overnight. Usually, it builds and builds — for months — before a leadership crisis emerges.

By and large, our crises are of our own making. Our processes lead us to the point of unsustainability.


Analyze the process you walked through to land you there. Then start at the beginning to rebuild, rather than just putting out fires.

Process analysis results in long-term solutions, rather than knee-jerk reactions when things go wrong.

How can you evaluate your processes, to not get caught in crisis?

How might working differently help you at this time of year?

Be different. Look at what you do. Look at what others do. Evaluate a little. Don’t build yourself a crisis of process.

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