The value (and pitfalls) of process

Phil Johnson has some good advice for product managers in The Goldilocks of Process:

Blindly following process is a project-killer—not just in terms of efficiency. The real poison is the mentality: in these cases process became a crutch to lean on, with these individuals no longer thinking critically about their tasks. In many ways, the process became the job, where process really should be what enables the job. This rings doubly true in the software development world.

On any team, you want your process like you want your porridge: just right. If you have too little, the team may not know what the priorities are, or who is responsible for the next step. Too much, and your team will end up doing more process than actual work. The right strategy should be flexible enough to fill in the cracks of the team’s blind spots while enhancing their strengths. It’s up to the PM to find that sweet spot.

This also reminds me of Michael Lopp’s essay The Process Myth, and these words that will forever be etched in my brain:

Engineers don’t hate process. They hate process that can’t defend itself.