Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ritualization

Oftentimes, we talk of processes & improving them in the project management space. In fact, a seamlessly integration of teams & its various processes is the state that every project manager wishes to take her team to & make it stay there. As frequently stated in many PM books, teams go through typical stages of the formative, the storming or conflicting, normative or the settlement & appearance of coherence, & finally performing.

I'm not sure how to measure the maturity of a process, or indeed if there are metrics that can be captured or surveys that can be conducted to capture this kind of information - which, for all you know, might just be little more than opinions - but there is a part of me which tends to relate process maturity to a ritual.

Now, firstly by ritual I do not mean blind compliance. By ritual, I mean a stage of process evolution which has more or less perfected the process, i.e. it has answered all doubts & concerns. The term ritual is useful then in describing what follows, for in that stage of maturity there is a comprehensive buy-in of the process by all parties concerned & there is a degree of automation in the way the process is followed - without reminders or any assertions.

Like a ritual then, process compliance becomes a part of a larger, collective conscience.

2 comments:

Manoj G said...

'A comprehensive buy-in of the process by all parties concerned' will never happen due to social, political, economic reasons or other needless prejudices. So, people are the weakest link in a software process (how ironical), and therefore, eliminating people from the equation seems to be closest you can get to a perfect model. In other words, "Ritualization" as you put it, which would translate to total automation, like in the semiconductor or automobile industries, seems to be the only end to a seemingly endless journey.

If automation is the end, the means to that end seem to be pretty blur too. So, we are at a juncture which opens the door to many innovative & pioneering solutions if you may (notwithstanding the hundreds of billions of dollars already being pumped in towards Ritualization as I speak).

PS: After quite a while, I felt quite happy to be able to think on the same plane as thou (I think), and leave a comment (a highly subjective assertion though) on your blog -:)

Anonymous said...

I agree that the degree of ritualization in our industry is rather miniscule. And people are the weakest link because of, like you said, social, political or other reasons.

However, my intent with post was not about a people-free process flow. I think thats a separate discussion, & lends itself more toward research & the billion dollars you mentioned. Depending on the degree of complexity, people will probably continue to be part of processes for some time to come. It is in the context of these that I initially thought of equating ritualization to process maturity.

It is brushing your teeth, something you do without incentives or separate motivations, not because there aren't any, but because these incentives & motivations do not need thinking & debating anymore for they're so well established that we think of them reflexively, & not so much consciously.

Thanks for your time & thoughts. I'm totally honoured.

S!