When I make lunch, sometimes I follow a procedure (a recipe), but mostly I use techniques and rules of thumb I’ve learned over the years to create a simple, one-course meal out of whatever I happen to have at the time.
This kind of cooking is fine for my lunch. My ‘Promise of Value’ to my husband is a tasty, filling and nutritious lunch. He doesn’t really care how I get there.
For Sunday dinner though, I need more than a procedure and a set of techniques. I’ll use several procedures (roast chicken, yorkshire pudding, accompanying vegetables, pudding), and loads of techniques (roasting, making a batter, boiling, steaming, baking).
But the thing that really makes Sunday dinner work is that I co-ordinate all the main course procedures so they finish at the same time, while pudding arrives at just the right interval later. That’s what I call a process.
Now imagine I want to open a restaurant.
Even with a limited menu, I’ll have different tables working at different timescales, with different options. Not only do I have to get meals cooked on time, I’ll need to make sure there are enough clean tables, dishes and cutlery. I’ll need to greet guests, take orders, offer drinks, and serve dinners. Several of them, all at once.
In other words one overall process (Lunch) is actually the co-ordination of multiple instances of several processes, which are in turn the co-ordination of several procedures – all designed to deliver the same Promise of Value (“Sunday Dinners like your Mother used to make”).
If I don’t work out what those processes should be, so I can deliver my Promise effectively for less than I charge, I won’t have a restaurant for long. If I design them to over-deliver for less than I charge, I’ve got the start of a restaurant chain.
‘Process’ is a word that’s bandied about quite a bit. Like all jargon it can be misused or misunderstood, but it’s definitely bigger than a recipe.