Monday, 13 May 2013


I like standard procedure.  I like systems.  I even like rules.  But I hate the way they're followed.  I hate the way they're written, their intentions, and their condescending disregard for the end user.  In the sections of my life where I sell out, procedure is a huge part of the problem but it's a necessary evil and has created its own solution.  The use of good procedure has allowed for the recruitment of lesser intellect.

Let me explain.  If procedure is a set of rules that, if followed correctly, will result in a desired outcome, then a free-thinking, intelligent human is no longer required.  There are benefits and disadvantages to that. The system will benefit because risk is limited.  However, if the system fails and the human running it does not have the capacity to perform the task manually then there is no hope.  In a corporate world procedure is used well for conveyerbelt roles (like mine!)- and as a result idiots are recruited and process is never improved.

For my personal projects, however, I like to use procedures and systems because to me they are dynamic.  The process is always being tweaked.  I guess you could argue that it's not a procedure if it isn't static but in my black and white mind the result is easier to evaluate when the journey was documented.  It is very rare for me to tweak a procedure before I can evaluate a result of some kind so in a way the process isn't dynamic until the end result is complete; whether that be a success or failure.

In its simplest form a procedure is an estimation of the steps required to reach a particular goal.  I want to fry an egg- I have to heat up a pan, crack and egg into the pan, and let it cook.  The best analysis can come at the end of the process.  The egg stuck to the pan?  I'll tweak the procedure next time by putting oil in before the egg.  The egg was too runny?  I'll cook it for longer.

For my projects the fun (and hard work) comes well before I start performing the steps.  I feel much more comfortable and confident in a pressure situation when I've set in place the system that I think will get me the greatest result.  I think this is borne of my athletic and financial markets past.  Want to run faster?  Train in a particular fashion over a particular period of time.  It has been tried and tested.  Want to buy low, sell high?  Use these statistics/ econometrics/ chart patterns that have worked in the past.  Knowing that these steps will give the highest chance of success takes away a lot of the unknown and that comforts me in the heat of battle.

Analysis of the efficacy of the system used is essential for improvement.  So many variables have the ability to influence end results so these need to be taken into account but by testing, performing and re-testing, systems and procedures will become robust and risks are able to be minimised.  Intuition still has a part but this will be built from experience of tweaking. Failure builds experience and procedure allows you to document that in a controlled environment.

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