How to Apply Process Thinking to Your Life

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In an earlier post, I suggested to understand life as a process. Let us continue along that line of thinking. Whenever you are doing something, you can ask yourself some questions:

  • What am I doing, what is the concrete action I perform?
  • What are the inputs, what do I require to do this?
  • What are the desired results, what is the value I add?

You can improve this with the following questions:

  • What are undesirable results, what is waste or destroying waste?
  • How can I measure input, how can I measure output?
  • Why am I doing that at all, how can I explain it to others in simple words?

You can do this for small processes, like driving to a shop to buy food. Much more important is to do it for big processes:

  • Your job
  • Your education and training
  • Tidying up your home
  • Raising children
  • Planning and conducting big purchases

The list is far from complete, but it should give you basic idea which processes are interesting enough. Besides, many big processes can be split into smaller processes. Finally, every process can be broken down to a number of single actions.

If you look at life with process thinking, boiling everything down to small actions, it will be much easier to identify improvement potential. It is somehow like the joke about how to eat an elephant. The answer is, you do it bite by bite. Process thinking gives you a natural structure; and the questions listed above are your analysis tool.

But beware:

Process thinking is not the same as process documentation.

You do not want to write down the “process manual of your life.” In most cases, it is enough to have a broad understanding of what is going on. Process thinking is a tool, not a value in itself.

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