October 23, 2023

Standard Operating Procedures

I don’t know about you, but that phrase “Standard Operating Procedures” makes me cringe.  I completely get why they are needed in certain contexts – manufacturing, engineering, military, – anything where you’re dealing with things, or beings that you treat as things.

But as soon as human beings become part of the equation, there can be no such thing as standard – from either side of the operation.

If you’re a business that focuses on delivering a service to humans, by humans, consistency is what you want, not the uniformity of standardisation.  However your service is being delivered, and whoever is delivering it, it should feel consistent with your Promise of Value.  Since humans are involved, that inevitably means variation – of the kind that standardisation stifles.   The kind that allows your people to over-deliver on your Promise and delight individual clients – even when things go wrong.

So, as you design and document the services that enable your business to deliver though others, remember to empower that ability to vary in your team.

Not only will it make for more delight and flexibility, it will be the means by which you discover new needs and desires in your client base.

In manufacturing and engineering, variation is deviation.  But for humans and other living beings, and the businesses that serve them, it truly is the spice of life.

Discipline makes Daring possible.

Ask me how.