Walking the elusive fine line

Legal codes lay down the law in no uncertain terms. Legal codes do not define dilemmas or tradeoffs that involve emergent criteria. Process codes require walking the undefined fine line between two extremes. Processes extract a toll for erring either way. Process codes cannot define compliance with rules. They define the parameters for balancing, combining and finding middle ground. Here are a number of examples to help you grasp this pattern of walking the fine line between two errors in process codes:

Formulating strategy between
1. losing sight of the mission, conflating tactics and strategy, dwelling only on the details, failing in plan
2. becoming too visionary, losing touch with the ground, handing down strategies from on high, failing in execution

Deciding on a purchase between
1. premature convergence, rush to judgment, jumping to conclusions
2. indecision, procrastination, considering too many options

Making sales calls between
1. pushing for the close, overcoming objections, becoming obnoxious
2. hoping for an order, waiting to be asked, avoiding any pressure

Changing methods between
1. throwing the baby out with the bathwater, changing everything, creating chaos
2. giving lip service to change, making excuses to preserve the status quo, creating stagnation

Designing an innovation between
1. creating something so new it seems useless, senseless and weird
2. creating something so familiar it seems boring, unimpressive and predictable

Enrolling candidates in a program between
1. serving their unique interests, providing customized accommodations
2. enforcing policy requirements, convincing candidates to comply with the rules

If we go to one extreme or the other, the process gets derailed. Our efforts do more harm than good. We lose our inclination to trust the process at time when we need to trust the process more. We cannot imagine what we're supposed to do to get back on track. There appears to be nothing we can do that falls between the two errors.

When we walk the fine line effectively, the process takes us where we want to go. The strategy achieves its objectives while getting lots of buy-in. The decision proves to make a wise selection at a nice price with good timing. The sales process appears to entice customers to sell themselves on the offer. The change in methods gets adopted without a loss of continuity and reliability. The innovation is new enough to seem intriguing while familiar enough to appear useful. The candidates welcome the enrollment into accommodating their needs without making a big deal out of it.

Processes reward those who comply with the codes and penalize those who err either way.

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