I have previously written on the importance of the process over the product but this week I started to see the fall-out when that principle (which I hold to) becomes out of balance. There is always a balance – even when living according to principles. For example with character – we balance truth with love so we don’t hurt people’s feelings, we balance diligence with availability so we don’t become so task orientated, and we balance boldness with sensitivity so we don’t ram-roll someone. When we look at product versus process we have to find balance as well.
When we focus on the product we work towards getting it done. The workbook needs to be finished, regardless of real comprehension. The project gets finished regardless of opportunities to tweak it. The book is read regardless of enjoyment or answering questions along the way. All that matters is that the task is ticked off as done. We measure success by the finished product.
When we focus on the process though we understand that learning is happening as you do it –
- as you process the worksheet questions,
- as you take risks and try new things with the project,
- as you go down rabbit trails while reading a book.
Learning happens while you interact with stuff. This is the process.
But the balance is if you only focus on the process, finishing stuff can never happen. There is value in finishing a workbook, project, book. Our problem is that we live in an all or nothing world. We are going to be product-people or process-people, we are going to be task-orientated or people-focused. But it needn’t be all of one, and none of the other.
I can still value the process as we work towards finishing the product. That is the balance. Keeping my eyes on the process, enjoying the learning as we go along, value the learning as it happens, maybe removing the deadline for completing the project, but still aiming to complete it.
Otherwise our children will have a trail of uncompleted projects in their wake. This surely can’t be good training (but it is unfortunately something that we have fallen into in our home). We are really good at starting, and not so good at finishing. I have justified this because I was focusing on the process – and while we used the resource, read the book, worked on the project, learning was happening. That was my objective – all was good. Looking back now I see a bigger picture.
- Unfinished projects create a lack of gratefulness, and a lack of thriftiness as the next project is readily available
- Unfinished projects develop a habit of moving on when things get too hard instead of persevering
- Unfinished projects are un-motivating – they hang around you reminding you of unfinished business.
And where I’m saying ‘projects’ I mean a course of study, a book we were reading, or a hands on project; any task that we have undertaken.
So the reminder is: Don’t be so process focused that you forget the product. A finished project is something to celebrate and reward – it represents hard work and learning. Just don’t push it so much that you forget to celebrate the learning and effort that it takes to get there along the way.
But… sometimes we just need to move on. Don’t be dictated to by one or the other. Keep both in balance. Always remember the process – and keep in mind the benefit of the product.
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