Make Processes Work Better by Defining Them As Agreements With Self & Others

April 17, 2023

Many of us view processes as restrictive and burdensome, or even frustrating. I believe that restrictive, burdensome, and frustrating processes lack one fundamental thing – a defined agreement between oneself and all others that depend on that process. Make this one fundamental shift in thinking about processes and watch teamwork and productivity reach new heights. Whether you’re a leader, staff person or a solo entrepreneur this article will provide a new way of thinking about process that can benefit you. This post can guide you to redesign your processes to make them more effective.

What is a Process?


A process can be defined as a series of steps or actions taken to achieve a specific outcome. One example of a process is employee onboarding. Onboarding involves a series of activities and steps designed to integrate new employees into the organization and set them up for success in their new roles. This process may involve a variety of activities such as orientation, training, introductions to team members and stakeholders, and setting expectations for job performance. Another example of a process is creating a report. This process might involve defining the report objectives and scope, gathering and analyzing data, creating an outline, drafting the report, reviewing and revising the report, and submitting the final report. Each of these steps is important for ensuring that the report meets the desired objectives, is accurate and well-organized, and effectively communicates the intended message.

A process is defined agreement. An Agreement with oneself or with others (if the tasks in the process are shared among two or more people).

Causes of Frustration With Process:


  1. Lack of clarity: If a process is not clearly defined, it can be difficult for individuals to know what is expected of them or how to complete each step correctly. This can lead to confusion and mistakes, which can be frustrating for everyone involved.
  2. Over-complication: Processes that are overly complex or convoluted can be difficult to understand and follow, which can lead to frustration and a lack of engagement. People may feel like they are wasting time and energy trying to navigate the process, rather than focusing on the work itself.
  3. Lack of buy-in: If people don’t understand or agree with the purpose or value of a process, they may be less motivated to engage with it and may view it as a burden or obstacle. This can lead to frustration and resistance, which can undermine the success of the project or initiative.
  4. Lack of feedback or updates: Processes that are not regularly reviewed or updated can become outdated or ineffective over time. This can lead to frustration and a sense of stagnation, particularly if people feel like their input or feedback is not being heard or valued.


By recognizing and addressing these sources of frustration, teams can work towards developing processes that are clear, streamlined, flexible, and engaging. Making agreements with self and others about process can be a powerful tool for achieving this, as it encourages collaboration, accountability, and buy-in from all involved parties. In the next section, we’ll explore some specific ways that this approach can lead to better processes.

How Can Making Agreements with Self and Others About Process Make Them Better?


In the example above of a report writing process, by making the process explicit and involving all relevant parties, colleagues can improve communication and collaboration, reduce the potential for misunderstandings, and increase accountability for each step of the process. By looking at the process as a way of making an agreement between them, it can help ensure that the final report meets the desired objectives and is delivered on time.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that defining a process as an agreement between people is a sign of respect and professionalism. By acknowledging that each person involved in the process has unique skills and perspectives to contribute, and by involving them in the process of defining the agreement, team members can foster a sense of shared ownership and commitment to the project. This can lead to greater engagement, satisfaction, and overall success in achieving the desired outcomes.

In any work setting, processes are vital components that enable individuals and teams to achieve their goals effectively. It’s crucial to establish explicit agreements about these processes, rather than relying on implicit agreements based on assumptions.

Implicit agreements, which are based on assumptions, can be a source of danger and create negative outcomes. This is because implicit agreements are not communicated explicitly, which can lead to misunderstandings and unmet expectations. On the other hand, explicit agreements, which are communicated clearly and openly, can help to minimize potential misunderstandings, and ensure that everyone involved in the process understands their roles, responsibilities, timelines, and other important aspects of the work to be done.

Solution to Common Frustrations

With this shift in mindset that process can be more effective if we base it on agreement with self and others, we can solve for the common frustrations

  1. Lack of clarity: By defining a process as an agreement between oneself and others, all parties involved can work together to clarify the steps and objectives of the process. This can be done by clearly outlining the responsibilities and expectations of each party, as well as defining the timelines and goals for each step of the process. This can help ensure that everyone involved is on the same page, reducing confusion and increasing clarity.
  2. Over-complication: By simplifying the process and breaking it down into manageable steps, it becomes easier to understand and follow. By making it an agreement between oneself and others, it can also help identify areas that are unnecessarily complex and can be streamlined to improve efficiency.
  3. Lack of buy-in: By involving all relevant parties in the process and defining it as an agreement, it can help ensure that everyone is on board with the process and invested in its success. This can be done by actively seeking input and feedback from all parties and incorporating their ideas and suggestions into the process as appropriate. This can help increase engagement and commitment to the process.
  4. Lack of feedback or updates: By defining the process as an agreement, it can be designed to include regular checkpoints and reviews. This can help ensure that the process is working as intended, and that any issues or areas for improvement are identified and addressed in a timely manner. This can also involve actively seeking feedback from all parties involved and using that feedback to improve the process over time. This is continuous improvement.

In summary

Processes built on defined agreements with ourselves and others can improve our work efficiency and effectiveness. Make these agreements explicit and communicate them clearly to all parties involved. More effective teamwork and achievement of desired outcomes will result. By understanding and applying this concept, we can simplify our processes, unlock their true value, and minimize the potential for misunderstandings and the resulting frustration. It is important to take the time to define and document our own processes to see the positive impact they can have on our work. Do this by making agreements with ourselves for personal and professional success.


Christian Grieco


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