Process Attachment


“I am standing next to my friend and I point out the flock of seagulls drifting together on  the wind. It looks so beautiful. But he is pointing out the speedboat cutting across the  scene at about forty miles an hour. “Look at that!” he exclaims, ignoring my seagulls completely!”

People get emotionally attached to different processes for different reasons.

Their motivations are different. Improving processes may evoke different reactions in different  individuals and groups.

These reactions may relate to past experience of these or similar processes

Some processes are more pleasing, more personal, evoking memories.

A story…

Innovation in Accounts

When the accounts department had to move to a computerised system for cost accounting, several accountants took early  retirement. They were proud of the accuracy and integrity and the manual systems they had operated to the satisfaction of clients  for many decades.

The new system lacked the personal touch and several accountants felt they could never trust it and that it didn’t allow the individual  touch they felt clients wanted.

However, the new system was brought in to speed up the process and allow an increase in capacity, and thus sales.

The design of the new system was very cleverly done. Screens were designed to look like the manual systems they replaced and  this created a more positive attitude amongst some of the more traditionally minded accountants. The background texture of the  screens were designed to look like paper and the language of menu options was similar to that actually used by the accountants on  a day to day basis. The design of the new accounts processes on the computer (a combination of simply computerising current  practice but also creating new innovation such as a wide range of financial rations) were aimed at:

– Leaving behind the worst of the old (including unnecessary duplication of figures)

– Taking with the best of the old (including space for accountants to personalise reports with space to write in short paragraphs of comments.


Below is a list of different views about changes in processes – some positive, some negative. Tick the reactions that
you can remember having yourself at one time or another at work, when change was brought about.

Here’s the list

“Why change it … it’s worked well for years.”

“It would be a shame to change it.”

“We should get rid of it.”

“It is out of date.”

“We’ve always done it that way.”

“I’ll miss that if we get rid of it.”

“It’s part of our tradition, our heritage.”

Now, identify a process at work that you feel needs to be improved.

Write the process here:

Now write some typical quotes like those above, positive or negative, that characterise the likely reaction to change
from colleagues in your organisation.

We may also feel more comfortable with certain processes simply because we have become more attached to them

– out of habit! When the process is changed we enter a state of discomfort and are drawn back to the original process.


Try this: Fold your arms.

How did you do it? Did you tuck your left or right hand under your opposite arm?

Now reverse the process – cross your arms the opposite way. How does it feel?

We tend to feel more comfortable with processes we are familiar with and it is hard to change the habit. Who wants to
be uncomfortable?

Yet that is just what process innovation may involve. The changed or new processes may make us feel uncomfortable
or threatened. But they may be necessary for the success of our organisation.

Now, here ‘s challenge. Take off your watch and put it on the opposite wrist. Or take off a ring and put it on your other
hand. Now, try to keep it that way for the rest of the day and reflect on how you feel at the end of the day. Did you
manage to keep it on the other hand for the whole day, or even evening?


Visit the Innovation Realm

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