Process Trumps Solution – If relationships matter . . .

If relationships matter, then the process trumps the solution.

At a recent Family Business Alliance event in Grand Rapids, Michigan, family business expert Greg McCann shared this quote in the context of a story.  The story was of a older business owner who had just put together a plan for passing his business on to his wife and two sons after his death.  The plan assembled by his lawyer and accountants put one son in charge who was part of the business and desired the top job, and make the other two financially comfortable.  When McCann asked him when he was going to share the plan, his response was “when I die it will be part of my will.”  McCann’s only advice was simple – if you want this to work, they need to know about it now so that they can work out the details and any disagreements or problems can be addressed while you are here.  If relationships matter (this is a family, so this IS the goal), then process trumps the solution.

We can learn a lot in talent management and leadership about building relationships from family business.  I created a talent calendar with the single goal of defining the events (process) that produced the best opportunity to talk, listen, support, and problem solve throughout the year for a leader and a follower. While content is important, presence and process is the goal.

I am reminded of a study shared in the book SWAY by Ori and Ram Brafman.  A survey given to convicted felons about the judicial process and how fairly they were treated.  In the end, two factors emerged as significant on their perception of fairness.  As was expected, the inmates placed a lot of importance on the outcome, which was the sentence they received.  But almost equally weighted was how much time their lawyer spent with them.  Process matters.

If relationships matter, then open and honest dialogue during process of setting the goal is more important than the goal being set.  Talent management is about process and the relationships that happen when it is done well.