Process-oriented vs. Results-oriented

I was reading a post by a gentlemen the other day, who was talking about startup success is related to being process-oriented rather than results-oriented.

I disagree for a simple reason.

The results are what matters.

Now, that makes me sounds like one of those, ends-justify-the-means, do-anything-to-win, wall street types. I’m not, I still believe in generosity, creativity, and a long-term approach to the world. It’s just that without having positive outcomes, the work you’re doing won’t impact the world. If getting to profitability doesn’t happen a company eventually collapses and the work is lost. It’s easier to bake that in at the beginning and focus on profitability as the goal.

To give a sports analogy. I know a good golfer, but his swing looks uncomfortable. Certainly not like the pros you see on TV, yet he probably could compete at high amateur levels. When I asked him, he said he was entirely self-taught. Never used a camera. Just took swing after swing. Adjusting until he hit the ball straight and long. Same with putting, except accuracy was the goal.

Perhaps reading the previously mentioned post about being process-oriented, I’m getting caught up in the wording and the concept of getting out there and practicing is the same as the process this gentlemen was discussing. However, what is the practice without looking at the results? If I’m hitting it to the left every time, I would never know that without looking at the result.

Here’s what I think he meant, or should have said:

Focus on the process, while only being worried about the trend of the results. At the beginning, you’ll have to put in a long slog with nothing at all. This is the golfer who goes to the tee box swings 6 times and hits 1 ball. There is nearly no result to judge.

Then your skill increases. You start to get a measurable result. You hit the ball every time, but it goes all of the place. At least, you’re now judging the result of your distance.

Then after more practice, the ball consistently travels to the left. You’re able to see trends from the amount of consistency you have in your process, so now you can tweak the process. So, you can work on hitting the ball straight in front of you.

Then eventually the only thing left is controlling power and refinement for consistency. You’ve built a process that is robust, knows the variables, and can predict the outcomes.

All this is only possible if the process and the results are taken together. After all, what if the process itself lead to no results?