The story behind the title photo – Part 2, Process

Now that we know the people involved in my first blog of this series “People”, we can start to discuss how process assisted me along the journey.

In Enterprise IT we tend to like to think we have really well defined processes. Even if we are being self-deprecating, we think we attempt to define processes. We have processes for managing projects and for support, for procurement and supply chain and everything in between.

What’s interesting is that we are generally best at defining IT processes, whilst human processes are much harder to define. Take this into every day life and talk about the process of “climbing a mountain” or “taking a photograph” and we choose not to describe a process, but rather think of it as learnt behaviour.

This is pure and simple because we choose not to think of every day life in terms of a process – but it’s out there. Our decision to turn back from the mountain – the cloud cover coming in from the west or the dampness in the air – are justified by well-honed senses and a subliminal process.

For this mountain there were a few processes that were incredibly important.

Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance

To contextualise – this photograph requires a 14 hour mountaineering expedition – a round trip that covers some 6000 ft vertical and 26 miles. It requires head torches and a rucksack full of equipment. In my case I left the torch in the hotel and it added 45 minutes to my journey whilst I sat in the car waiting for dawn to arrive.

It requires sufficient water in your Camelbak. Michel told me that I could refill my pack at 9000ft but it turned out that the river had run dry and it took me an hour to dig out the river and make a pool of water to drink from.

Getting Fit

Getting fit is a process that most of us are familiar with. Get on treadmill, run for an hour, eat less, drink less, repeat. Or whatever your fitness poison is. Most of us convince ourselves that either a particular regime works for us, or that we’re not as overweight as we think we are. I tend to convince myself that when I’m 80something kilograms, I’m about the same weight as I was when I was 21. If only.

What’s interesting is that the process of learning mountain techniques makes up  to some extent for the lack of fitness. If for example, you learn to pace yourself in the right way, early in the day, you will dramatically increase your performance later on.

As Michel told me “un bon guide, c’est un guide sec” – roughly translating to “a good guide’s a dry guide”. Now I’ve seen the beer he consumes when home so I can only assume that he means during the day. It seems that great mountain guides don’t work themselves to a point of sweat and therefore barely need to drink when out on the mountain.

Final Words

Whatever we do in life, there is an implicit or explicit process surrounding it. It may be too complex to visualise or describe, or worse, we may believe that we understand the process when in fact there are nuances that we do not understand. As IT professionals we are especially guilty of this.

So when you embark upon the journey of process definition, remember that people die every out in the mountains because they misunderstand their process definitions, especially about the weather.

Next Up: Technology

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