Process Reflection

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Some processes are reflected in others – through their behaviour – or appearance.

“I pick up a round pebble. It is so soft and smooth, almost a perfect egg shape. How many years  of washing by the sea has created this smooth perfection ?

“A young child runs along the beach blowing a plastic whistle. He is chasing a dog and shouts ‘Come here, you are under arrest !’. His father soon catches up with him. I recognise him. It is Gary, the local policeman.”

When dealing with quality problems, the problem may reveal more about another process than the process, which manifests the problem. For example, dry skin may say more about dietary processes than skin formation processes! Or a faulty part might point to an inadequate design process. Process problems often act as ‘reflections’ of other often-deeper causes of the problems.


Below is a list of five problems associated with particular processes. Then there is a list of processes, which seem to reveal themselves in the problems; they lie behind them so to speak. See if you can match the problem with the processes, which seem to reveal themselves.

1. A water heater’s power cable is frayed and the metallic cable is revealed beneath. There
is a label on the water heater, which reads “Safety tested”. The water boils merrily away.

2. An irate customer is waiting for the help-line number for his computer to answer. It has
been ringing for ten minutes !

3. An actor is nervous on stage. She keeps looking offstage every five minutes when she
should be concentrating on her performance

4. A plant is dying, its leaves dry and its stem drooping.

5. A lorry driver is speeding at 80 mph on a rainy motorway. He flashes cars in front that are
doing seventy!

And here are the processes that are reflected.

1. Maintenance and checking is not a priority in the organisation

2. Staffing levels are not be properly managed

3. Someone is being dominating in their management style

4. There is a lack of care for the process

5. Someone is being put under pressure to work beyond what is reasonable

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