3 Steps to Building a Process

whiteboard on 29/4photo © 2008 Denise Chan | more info (via: Wylio)

 

Confession time; I hate X Steps to Anything books, articles or sermons. Mainly because the topics addressed by those books, articles and sermons are far to complex to be broken down to single-digit steps and accomplished—at least with any measure of success. But here I am with a 3 Steps to Building a Process Post. What can I say? I’m an artist...

Anyway, I’ve been writing about, talking about and developing processes for a good number of years now. And the other day I was explaining to one of our new audio volunteers how we come up with all these processes. Turns out the process for creating a process is actually quite simple. So without further delay, here’s roughly how I do it.

Step 1: Make It Work

Truly, the first step in process design is just to get the thing to work. The thing can be anything from a method you use to set up the stage, to a series of procedures to accomplish a task to a strategy for lighting or mixing. You have to start by making it work. For the purposes of illustration, I’m going to use the process of cabling our stage, because that’s what prompted this post.

We started of running individual cables all over the place, because we needed to make it work. After a while we started paying attention to what and how many cables we were running where. That leads to the second step.

Step 2: Customization

Once you get the basics down, and you know how you want accomplish the task, it’s time to customize it. For our sermon recording process, I wrote some AppleScripts to automate the recording, and we created a series of templates and folders to make it go quicker. For our stage cabling, we started building custom snakes and cables. Instead of running 2-4 cables to the stage left platform every week, we now have a 4 channel sub-snake dropped over there. Rather than run a data cable and a stereo line level cable from the M-48s every week, we zip tied them together. 

We re-labeled our snake box to match what gets plugged in where, and we built a custom rack for our S-4000D Distro and wireless IEMs. We also built custom cables to get to and from those boxes. After you have the custom stuff in place for a while, you start to notice things you can tweak just a little bit.

Step 3: Refinement

To me, this is the most fun. The first two steps are often pretty obvious things that make life easier. Step 3 is where you get to be clever. Sometimes it’s simple things like color-coding and labeling both ends of all the NL-4 monitor cables. Or you start creating calendar events that pop up reminders on the recording computer to remind you to start the CD-R at the 9:00. Sometimes you bend conduit and make completely custom cables like an Amphenal 6-pin Leslie connector to NL-8. And back. Through the wall to the iso room. 

This is the point where you step back and look at the process and think, it would be even better if we just did...

We’ve been spending a lot of time in step 3 of late, and it’s been crazy fun.

What processes have you been developing, and where are you in the, well, process?

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