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The Process Orientation

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 outcomes.

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, of course!

  • 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 the rules”.

  • 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 process.

  • 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 done”.

  • “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 exercises.
    - 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 people prefer:

  • Banking

  • Bookkeeping and accounting

  • Security

  • 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.

  • Military

  • 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 doing them.

 

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