Quality and Process Drive Execution and Innovation

hot carPersonally, I am a big believer in quality.  I am also a big believer in process.  Why?  I think both improve execution speed (which translated means getting to do more of the fun stuff).  How does it help?


  • A concept I like is Shu-Ha-Ri. It is from Karate and talks about when to follow the path and when it’s OK to stray from the path.  (When learning stay on the known path.  When you become an expert, only then can you stray from the path.)  For a larger organization, different teams can be at different levels of maturity.  Sometimes it is necessary to bring consistency in and bring all teams down to the same level of discipline (showing the can follow the rules). I personally would lean towards trying to get unity across all teams so more junior teams can learn from the more mature teams.  If the senior teams stray from the path, the risk can be the junior teams may follow them without the knowledge of when it is OK and not OK to do so.  So when bringing in a new practice, I start out strict and then loosen up as teams mature (and teams understand that other teams are more mature than they are).
  • I am a believer in doing things right.  I don’t like the Australian (where I come from) attitude of “she’ll be right mate” as it can turn into “a rough job is good enough”.  I believe in quality from top to bottom, and do it now not later.  People should strive to do it right on little things and big things.  I think this is important because it is habit forming.  Being sloppy in some areas can lead to a generally sloppy attitude, which can overflow into other areas that matter.  Also others watch you and copy you. I personally always try to stand up for quality over deadlines.  You have to make a call at times, but to me quality should be planned in from the start. It should not be discarded as “optional” when a deadline looms.
  • And how could I omit the good old “with buggy code you spend more time overall fixing it than you would have saved if it you did it right in the first place”.


  • Straight jackets limiting your movements and creativity are fun!  NOT!  No, I really don’t enjoy the discipline following processes sometimes required.  But I do my best to do so because I know of the benefits.
  • A good process defines “just enough” of what you need to do.  Things that lead to problems in the past can be merged into the process to avoid repeating mistakes.  But you do need to be very careful to not put too much into a process where you tell people to do things with no benefit. Or make sure you not only put new processes in place where needed, but you also simplify or remove processes where no longer required.
  • I think processes improve efficiency.  Less time is spent working out how to do things.  Less time is wasted due to different people/teams doing different things that do not align.  Process help get everyone on the same page.

The goal for both quality and process is to me all about getting more efficient so you can get more done.  I find getting things done fun and rewarding.  I don’t do it to make my boss happy.  (Boss!  You are not reading this are you?  Just ignore that bit please!) Once you can execute better and be more productive, that is where innovation becomes possible.  Some people believe innovation and execution are opposites.  Execution is frequently around following fixed process where as innovation is about free thinking.  I think this is true.  However, innovation requires time.  The execution side is how you make more time available for innovation.  If you do a good job of execution, upper management tends to trust you more and give you more time to spend on innovation.  They can see you are using your resources well (such as time) and so are willing to give you more of it.  Teams that execute poorly are less likely to be given time to spend on innovation as “why would I give that team even more time to waste”.

So personally, I am a big believer in that quality and process are the enablers for execution and innovation.  I think its important to remember the final objective.  Especially when having to invest in the quality and process sides which can take real effort.

Just remember Grasshopper that they are not the end point – they are just a step along the path to ultimate success.

(Oh my goodness, did I really say that last sentence?)

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