Challenging complacency

Published on 2022-07-18 by John Collins.

The processes we use within our organisations can be seductive: we can fall into the trap of assuming that our processes are a guarantee of success. However this is not true, as process outcomes are variable due to variable inputs and wider environmental factors, namely the environment in which the process is ran can change around it.

A team can become wedded to a process, even when that process is no longer delivering good results. “But we always do it this way” can be a warning sign of this behaviour.

A certain amount of complacency can set in:

1: self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies When it comes to safety, complacency can be dangerous.
2: an instance of usually unaware or uninformed self-satisfaction


That complacency around assumed outcomes is dangerous, and can transform into an overconfident group think when a process is not questioned.

Good processes should always be considered a work in progress, that contain a feedback loop to improve the process itself, not just the outcomes. Examples of this include the retrospective ceremony in Scrum, but there are other examples.

The key point is to remind your teams that positive outcomes are not guaranteed, only made more likely by good processes, and great execution.