The process oriented person sees working within existing structures as
the best way to achieve success. Governments, businesses, religions, and
even nature itself have all provided structures that lead to success.
Why not simply work hard and follow the rules of these structures? Doing
so ensures a high chance of success at clear, attainable, well-established
Some general factors that describe process oriented people:
- When faced with a problem or situation, the process oriented person
searches for the nearest relevant set of steps, policies, instructions,
guidelines, rules, or regulations. In the absence of established processes,
this person feels lost, as if in the wilderness. The “trail”
is all-important. Without it, there seems to be no way of achieving
success for this person.
- Process oriented people feel most comfortable as long at they are
enmeshed in a structure – a clearly defined job, a religion which
provides clear guidelines for behavior and protocol, a community in
which people follow the rules, and a social circle which is clearly
defined and in which each person’s attitudes and intentions are
clearly defined and prescribed by protocol.
- Weekends need to be planned with a clear structure of events, activities,
and interactions with people established ahead of time. A couple of
free flowing hours are fine, but within a short time this person begins
to feel uncomfortable if a structure is not present to allow them to
understand what is coming next.
- Meetings are satisfying when there is a clear agenda, a strong process
oriented chairperson who follows commonly understood protocols, a clear
start and end time, and a clear sense that the process will generate
the desired outcomes. Getting to the goal is not urgent if the process
and procedures are not being followed. Structure becomes more important
than preconceived goals. In the extreme, preserving and supporting structure
and protocol becomes the goal itself.
- Recreational activities can be joyful for the process oriented person.
After all, what could be more fun than an organized 10km marathon with
the route clearly marked, timing of how long you take, set prizes, an
organized starting position, and every runner being numbered? Any recreational
activity with clearly defined procedures, rules, regulations, steps,
and instructions is an activity that is fun for a process oriented person.
Following the rules of the recreational activity is all-important. In
an extreme process oriented person, the outcome (win/lose) or feelings
of those involved are completely irrelevant. Simply knowing that the
process and protocol are being followed means the activity is “good”.
- Rankings, titles, and social hierarchies are extremely important
to a process oriented person. Having lunch with a person in your department
and at the same job status is a good thing. Going to lunch with a few
people is OK, as long as the process of “who is sitting with who”
is clearly established, everyone knows each other, and their titles
and rankings are clearly understood. Process oriented people are distinctly
more comfortable in “high power distance” organizational
structures. Socially they are likely to feel a deep affinity with royals
and royalty and feel that heredity of title and rank through birth is
the way things should be. Organized social structures are more comfortable
places to make life decisions in than letting messy and unprocess–like
Darwinism rule your life!
- Structured communication skills are a strong part of the process
oriented person’s toolkit for life. A process oriented person
can be very sensitive to incorrect protocol in written communications.
They prefer written communications over verbal as there is a definiteness
and certainty that written instructions, policy, and procedures have
that verbal communications don’t have. Process oriented people
develop a clear understanding of what is to be said in different interpersonal
contexts and how you should behave physically in these different contexts.
Process oriented students are the favorites of process oriented teachers,
- Process oriented people are both attracted to, and repelled by, other
process oriented people. They are attracted to others of their kind
in work and general social situations. However, deep in their minds,
process oriented people find incongruity between the structures they
live within and the natural messy conditions of life. The instinct to
have those messy things called children often drives process oriented
people into the arms of relationship or goal oriented people! Power
that goal and relationship oriented people often wield can be an aphrodisiac
to process oriented people.
- Process oriented people who are not self-aware consider the relationship
oriented people “lazy - they are always socializing and not working”
and goal oriented people frustrating because they are “arrogant
rule breakers who think they can get anything they want without following
- Homework or studying for a process oriented person is better done
alone by working through a textbook and set of instructions given by
the teacher. Or quietly with other process oriented people who can confirm
on a regular basis with each other that they are all following the right
- Solitary, individual, no-talking multiple choice, true-false, knowledge
or process repetition exams are a joy to a process oriented person.
Group projects done together with non-process oriented people are awful
to process oriented people. Open ended analysis exams, unstructured
projects, and unstructured “live” challenges or verbal exercises
are frightening and frustrating to this person. Process oriented people
like to know exactly what is expected and how to do something.
Things you will hear a highly process oriented person say:
- “Where’s the map?!”
- “I am starting a running plan. Every day I will run 5 km. I
will follow a set path. If you want to join me at 8:00am every day to
run this route with me, that would be fine”.
- “Skiing? When are you thinking of going? Where do you plan
to go? Who are you inviting – do I know them? How much will it
cost? When will you be back? How are you planning to get there? How
long will you ski for in the day? …”
- “I am going for lunch at 12:00 noon. If you would like to come
with me to the cafeteria, we could sit together. But I will have to
be back at 12:30pm sharp for a meeting.”
- “Let’s sit at this table. I don’t feel comfortable
sitting with those people from engineering at that table and there are
managers at the other one.”
- “I know that person. She is the vice president of marketing
at XYZ company”. Or: “I know that person. He is the son
of the Duke of Blinkerton.
- “Do you understand what is required on the project? Do you
want to get together tonight to compare notes and see if we both understand
how to do this project properly?”
- “Professor, may I work on this project alone? I know exactly
what is required and can get it done very quickly on my own.”
Or: “Professor, may we work on this project together? We can help
each other ensure that we are doing the right things that need to be
- “May we take the case study home the night before the exam
so that we have time to understand it properly (time to figure out the
structure and instructions perfectly, that is!)
- “Sir, I don’t understand what is expected of me. May
I come to see you in your office at 3:00pm so that you can explain exactly
what you want me to do?”
- A process oriented primary school teacher: “That child is so
polite and sits quietly waiting for instructions from his teacher. What
a good child!”
Spaces a process oriented person will like to be in
- Restaurants where the seating process of patrons is clear, a reservation
and/or clear queue for getting in exists, and where tables are separated
and clearly delineated by patron. Relating to the food offered, process
oriented people prefer that the menu is posted and/or printed, details
of what comes with each entrée explained well, prices posted
and clear as to what is included in a price, no ambiguity exists as
to what the food is, and the process of serving and paying is fully
understood up front. Their group’s being served in the same order
of who was seated first is something process oriented people notice.
If another table gets their food first, a process oriented person will
notice. Process oriented people will often choose a restaurant they
know over a new one they haven’t tried due to the comfort of knowing
their favorite food. “I know what I like and like what I know”
is often an well followed mantra of a process oriented person.
- Bars where the process of ordering drinks is clear. Where you can
sit with one person and if you are close to others, the protocol of
non-interaction is clearly understood by all.
- Closed coffee shops rather than open cafés. Where the process
is understood and there is little chance of not being served by a server
in a timely manner.
- Fitness clubs where there are a lot of structured programs (fitness
classes), a structured layout of machines, a clear protocol of movement
between machines during a “set”, and full details of policies,
instructions, and rules posted on the walls of the club.
- Public spaces with sidewalks, signs, regulations, rules, and routes
to follow and be within. Streets that are well signed, clearly organized,
and logically laid out.
- Movie theatres with clear queuing at the ticket stand, refreshments
counter, and for the movie itself. And movies that start on time. Shopping
malls and stores that are laid out in an organized way, with an immediately
evident clear structure to guide the shopping process.
- Classroom experiences with:
- a high degree of structure in the curriculum, such as lesson plans.
- activities that are highly scheduled.
- activities that are structured, such as worksheets, with clear instructions
and outcomes expected.
- reading of textbooks favored over discussions, debates or other open-ended
- a set path for progression and completion of activities leading up
to assessment milestones based on the summary points in the process.
- clear assessment structures that directly assess what was stated in
the process, such as a summary knowledge test at the end of each chapter
of the textbook.
- adherence and support for organization and structure by the teacher.
Careers that attract process oriented people:
Authority figures are comforting symbols of order and procedure for
the process oriented person. A lot of process oriented people prefer uniforms,
clearly defined authority, and responsibility. They gravitate to jobs
with just such attributes. Credentials, years of experience, and specific
experiences are all critical to a process oriented person if they are
in the position of hiring someone else. Some typical careers process oriented
- Bookkeeping and accounting
- Government – particularly bureaucratic areas.
- Teaching – particularly in rigid teaching environments that
encourage strict behavior codes, dress codes, being on-time, the 3 -
R’s, the “fundamentals”, etc. For a process oriented
person, there is a “right way” to teach and it is highly
structured, linear, and progression oriented (steps, grades, etc.)
- Medicine – nursing assistants, unit clerks, etc. where procedures
are well established.
- Technicians of all kinds – electrical, mechanical, lab, dental
- where the job is very organized and clearly laid out.
- Air traffic control
- Cooking at a set-menu restaurant
Learn more about the process orientation by exploring your own ways of
doing things. There is no one right way of doing things in life - but
there seems to be some fairly common groupings of ways people go about
Want to learn more? Success orientations is an open source model. See the emerging web site that will support the dissemination, research, discussion, and critical analysis of the success orientations model:
Indepth information on Success Orientations
A much deeper and more fully explained look at the success orientations model is included in the first applied book on success orientations called "How to Teach International Students", available for purchase through this web site.