In a lunch meeting yesterday a colleague challenged me to describe the kind of leader I am. I used a phrase, “people, process, and technology – in that order.” I think of it as a gateway phrase because it allows me to talk about my skills as a human capital coach and how I translate that into high-performing teams.
There’s an old cliche that employees are any company’s greatest asset. I don’t like the word “cliche” here because it implies the phrase has lost its meaning through overuse. It is simply a true statement. If you have the tightest process and the best technology, you can still fail if people aren’t engaged in the process and fluent in the technology. And yet, if you have energized and engaged people, they can carry you through inefficient processes and outdated technology.
If there’s time, I also talk about processes such as Lean, Agile, and Scrum. I like the built-in accountability and measure-ability. And then a discussion about technology is more about making good technology decisions that drive business value and less about reading lines of code.
I’ve used that phrase for at least a few years now, even before I got my coaching certification, so it made me wonder where the phrase originated. It was the topic of this article published in the Business Process Management Journal in 2003. This 2013 post from David Lacey’s IT Security Blog suggests the phrase has been around since 1990.
And then I found this entry from a forum on ITILnews.com. It’s concise and supports my belief that if you get the People part right, Process and Technology will follow. Plus, ITIL dates back to the 1980s. So for now, I’ll attribute this to ITIL, but let me know if you find an earlier source!