I’ve always been a proponent of focusing on business processes instead of individual talents. We all have areas that we excel and we can provide specialty service in our particular field, however for long term success we need to understand the process instead of the people, especially for business processes that are considered routine. For example, if you were to go to a bank to cash a check, you expect the bank to accomplish that task, not tell you that you have to wait for John in order to make it happen. If John was out for the day, you would really be stuck!
While the need for people with skills is not in question, it is the skill that is required, not the person. My perspective may seem harsh but really it is the best for the organization and for the team. One person may do that skill better than another which is also not in question. My point is that for a team or a project to be successful, everything and everyone involved needs to look at the work not the people. One way to look at it is if a team is working to improve how the bank cashes the check, their efforts will be on the actions and tasks involved. This does not mean that people are out of the picture – far from it.
Unless a process is completely automated, people will have an impact (and even then they may be involved for quality). People are always going to be involved but focusing on one person may not be the best solution. My point is that if a process is person-dependent, then the process may be bottlenecked or at the mercy of that person’s schedule. What if John is out sick? Cross-training helps alleviate the need for a particular person and puts the emphasis back on the process. What are you cross-training – the skills and the process. As a leader, I will always support my people but I will teach and train the processes.