The Process Approach

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Take this lesson to learn how to get the best results with the least effort

Overview of the Process Approach

How does one get the best results with the minimum effort and the most fun? My answer:

  • Find people who love what they and who are very good at it
  • Figure out how they do things and then practice doing what they do
  • Organize your practice over time and get feedback along the way

The reason the process approach works is that great professionals have found simple and effective ways to get results. They have discovered the tricks of the trade!

Example: To paint my house, I would do background research to find out how professionals go about painting a house. Then, I would figure out how I could paint a house using the same methods as the professionals.

Example. To learn to swim (or to improve my swimming), I do background research to figure out how the best swimmers train and swim. This research is straightforward because many coaches publish books, develop blogs, and make videos in which they share their knowledge. When I am swimming, I continually practice the best fundamentals. The idea is that if I do my stroke with proper fundamentals, I will, through time and practice, gain a fast and efficient stroke. Of course, it takes 100’s or 1000’s of hours in the pool to become an elite swimmer.

The process approach can be applied to most subjects and areas of performance.

  • Statistics. Find out what the best professional do and how they think. Then do the same things.
  • Public Speaking. Find people who are insanely good at public speaking. Figure out how they pull this off. Then do the same things.
  • Research. Find the best researchers in the world. Find out how they think and get things done. Then do the same things.

The process approach can be applied to manufacturing and other activities. Example, friends of mine in the homebuilding business use the process approach to improve quality while reducing the cost and time for construction. This allowed them to provide a better product at a lower cost for their customers.

Everyone has methods to get results. Methods can range from lousy to extraordinary. The process approach  involves purposeful awareness of methods, alignment of methods with the fundamentals of great performers, and continuous improvement of one’s methods. Assumptions of the process approach:

  • Great professionals (those who excel at something) have figured out how to get great results with minimal efforts. Example. People who ski very well are skiing in relaxed and easy way.
  • What great professional believe and what they do is different from most everyone else. Example. Woz and Jobs were great because they thought and behaved differently from most other people. Example. Great skiers excel because they ski differently than 90% of other skiers.
  • I (or anyone else) can figure out what great professionals believe, how they think, and how they do things
  • I (or anyone else) am better off using the fundamental (i.e. methods) used by great performers
  • I (or anyone else) can continually improve my performance; there are no upper bounds on human performance

Benefits of the Process Approach

  • Always have a path for learning
  • Becoming increasing knowledgeable of key fundamentals
  • Build in solid fundamentals
  • You can become insanely good at something if you put in the time to practice fundamentals and have good coaching

How to do the Process Approach

  • Find out what the best professional do, what they know, and what they believe
  • Then, practice doing the same things.
  • Narrow down and focus on one or two fundamentals at a time. Strive to do fundamentals perfectly (do them very slow) Do many repetitions of the fundamentals
  • Get feedback on your methods (fundamentals) on an ongoing basis
  • Be patient; nobody becomes a great (skier, statistician, research, designer, ….) overnight

LogBook Questions

  1. In your own words, summarize the process approach.
  2. What would you love to be insanely good at? List as many ideas as possible.
  3. Select one topic from question #2. Then, explain how you would apply the process approach to start moving towards excellence.
  4. What are the three most important ideas that you learned about the process approach?


Learner will be able to describe the process approach. Why it is beneficial and how to apply this idea.



40 Responses

  1. Chris Jerue

    The three most important ideas I learned about the process approach would be: one, it takes a lot of effort on my part to become very good at something. Two, Nothing happens overnight and I need to use many good knowledgeable resources when I want to learn to do something right or get better. Lastly, three, That even when you start to get good at something, you’re not so you need to continue to get feedback from those who know more than you so you can continue to learn.

  2. Michael Lanier

    There are three important ideas that I learned in the process approach. The first is that getting good will take time and patience. The second is you need to keep things simple and focus on the fundamentals and basics of what you are trying to get good at. Finally you need to get feedback on how you practice your fundamentals. It does not matter how long and hard you practice if you are doing it wrong.

  3. Steven Elsbury

    What are the three most important things you learned about the process approach?
    *If you want to be great mimic the greats
    *It’s very difficult to un-learn bad habits
    *Repetition of (correct) fundamentals is the best way to go

  4. Mark Garber

    The three most important ideas I learned about the process approach are:
    1. It’s much more effective to try and learn from others who have already mastered a skill than to go out on your own and start from scratch.
    2. The above can make time you spend practicing more effective, but it still takes many hours of practice to begin to master a skill.
    3. Focus on the fundamentals first, and keep practicing them even when you move on to more advanced parts.

  5. Cole Schierman

    The process approach’s three most important ideas to me are finding a good path to learning, like finding someone knowledgeable in the subject you’re attempting to learn. Another important idea is to make sure you get the basics down first, as they will lead to more success. Finally the most important idea is to know no matter what there is always room to learn more.

  6. Colin Sowards

    Three most important ideas to me are 1.) Brainstorm ALOT. The majority of ideas are going to bust in some faucet or another, so there always has to be other options. 2.) Persistence pays off. You will only fail if you quit, so when things are tough and not working out, you have to find a way to grind it out. 3.) Don’t be afraid of advice. Sometimes we need a second or third opinion on things in order to move forward. Sometimes the most obvious things are hidden in plain sight and we need a different perspective.

  7. The first important idea I took away from the process approach was to watch how the professionals do whatever it is I am trying to learn. The second was that I need to put in a lot of time and effort in order for me to get good at something. And the third idea was I need feedback from experienced individuals in order to improve more quickly.

  8. Steve Sainsbury

    What are the three most important ideas that you learned about the process approach?
    -keeps you from repeating something that has already been done
    -allows you to further improve a product
    -allows you to gain knowledge of a product before reconstructing it

  9. Garrett Hall

    I think the 3 most important things to take away from the process approach are to narrow down and focus on the fundamentals, get feedback from experts on your performance and to be patient.

  10. James Tigue

    The three main things i learned from the process approach include: (1) Practicing fundamentals correctly to create a strong foundation for success. (2) There are people that have figured it out, do what they do and you will get better. (3) Practice skills in chunks rather than all at once. This allows you to focus on an aspect of the overall status you wish to achieve.

  11. Shawn Trimble

    The first big idea for me is fundamentals. I can’t stress how important it is to learn something correctly. Although there is merit for figuring things out on one’s own, bad habits once learned are extremely hard to break. Another big item is narrowed focus. I for example learn by doing. Therefore a concept learned is lost. What I mean is that I learn through example which then illuminates the concept. The third would be analyzing the pros. It’s true, they’re good for a reason. My learning curve may be steep on a subject, but with a pro as a template I’ll be able to climb much faster than trying to figure it all out on my own.

  12. Zachary Howard

    4. The three most important ideas about the process approach that I learned would be:
    a. Patience; taking things slowly rather than rushing will help learning.
    b. Persistence; I’m not going to be good at something the first time I try it, so keep trying.
    c. Learning by example; See what the people that are good at it are doing, and learn from them.

  13. Quaid Murray

    The three most important ideas I learned about the process approach is that it gives you a straight path to follow, correct method of practice, and a lot of the work is already done for you. The approach gives you a straight path to follow because you align yourself with a goal and the methods to achieving that goal is given to you by professionals who have achieved the same goals and the method is reliable.

  14. F. Austin Tanner

    The three most important ideas I learned about the process approach are that (1) the “best way” to do something, i.e. best results with least effort, is often not the “normal” way of doing it, so I need to take the effort and make sure that I am not just learning the “normal” way of doing something, but I am learning to do it the way the good professionals do it, (2) I can always learn how to do things better, i.e. keep learning through feedback, new knowledge, practice, etc, and (3) the process approach can be applied in nearly every area of my life from learning how to tie my shoes to flying airplanes.

  15. Vincent Schwartz

    1. That the best way to learn is to copy the techniques of the best.
    2. Break it down and learn a few of the most important things at a time.
    3. Don’t expect to be the best immediately; it takes practice and time.

  16. I believe that the three most important ideas about the process approach are to really study and become great at the fundamentals of whatever it is that you are doing. Also, look to those that have become great at what they do and find out how they do it and do the same. Finally time and effort are key to becoming successful in whatever it is you want to do.

  17. 1. The Process Approach can be a very handy tool to make sure that you go through a process that covers all of your bases whenever you execute a plan. Mimicking professionals and checking for other ideas from people provides valuable input for your plan of action.
    2. It is important to master the fundamentals before moving on in any bit of work. For example, I do a lot of competition-style handgun shooting (bullseye pistol for anyone interested). In the shooting sports, it is vital to learn the basics of sight alignment, breathing in rhythm, and trigger control. You could be the fastest gun in the West, but if you can’t hit an 8″ steel plate at 15 yards because you jerked your trigger pull, then you won’t do well in competition.
    3. Receiving feedback is vital to doing well when working on something new. Feedback doesn’t necessarily have to come from professionals; friends and coworkers can provide advice that others may not see or catch on to immediately. Having a professional mentor provides the best feedback. In the shooting sports, I could potentially contact great shooters like Jerry Miculek, Bob Munden, or Rob Leatham and receive training and advice from national champions to give me an edge in my game.

  18. Diego A. Juarez

    The three most important ideas that I learned about the process approach, were:
    1. The best learning method is to replicate those who have mastered that which you are trying to do.
    2. When replicating the best, it is only necessary to learn the most important concepts which they apply.
    3. Practice makes perfect so practice, practice, practice and along the way evaluate yourself.

  19. John O'Bryan

    The most important idea that i learned about the process approach is that one needs to learn and research about how the professionals do it and then learn from them. There is no point in trying to figure out a new way to do something when the professionals have the best way already figured out. Secondly, it takes time to become very good in any certain field. You need to take things slow and make sure you’re not practicing bad habits. Get feedback from a coach or someone good in the field and this will keep you on track. Lastly, take baby steps. One needs to master the beginner stuff before moving onto the intermediate and advanced.

  20. Rick Leathers

    I think the three most important things to learn from the process approach are to narrow down and practice the fundamentals, get feedback from more experienced individuals on how to improve, and to be patient until the results come.

  21. Josh Jenkins

    The three most important things I have learned from the process approach are:

    1) Someone has already figured out how to do what I want to do.
    2) You can save time and frustration by mimicking what they already know.
    3) Trust is a hard concept, but if you have proof of success, then you should follow it.

  22. Michael Moreno

    The most important thing I learned from the proccess approach was practice, practice, practice. To be good at something takes time. When I learned to ride my ripstik I spent hours riding in circles.

    Also look at what other people do to be good like them. When I first learned I had not a clue to slow down going down hill. But after watching someone good at it carve while going down hill, it made more sense.

    Getting feed back is also a very important point. If I don’t know how much I have progressed how do I know where to move foward.

  23. The three most important things I learned about the process approach are:

    Don’t reinvent the wheel. There are others how have come before me that are great resources when looking for solutions to my problem.

    Time can be saved by learning the tricks. Remember, the professionals know how to get results with the least effort.

    Getting feedback from those who are knowledgeable can be one of the most rewarding experiences when learning and greatly accelerate your project.

  24. Kaleb Trotter

    1. Excellence takes practice
    2. Imitate the best to be the best
    3. There is no such thing as negative feedback.

  25. Johnathan Baily

    The most important thing I could remember about the process approach was the fact that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel to innovate. If somebody has already figured something out, it’s a waste of time for me to do it as well.

    It is also worse to practice something the incorrect way than to not practice it at all.

    Additionally, trust is a major factor that takes time to build. It evolves as we interact with each other and it is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s difficult to build up trust, but at the same time, very easy to lose it.

  26. Adam Sedgwick

    The three most important things that i learned about the process approach are:
    1. Find someone who has already had great success at what i want to accomplish and follow their techniques.
    2. Keep practicing and remember that nobody gets good at anything overnight.
    3. Keep focused on the fundamentals and strive to do them perfectly

  27. First, you need to identify the FUNDAMENTALS of the TOP people in your area of interest. Second, even if much of the actual work lies with you it is important to find some mentor(s) who can give you feedback on your progress and hold you accountable to your goal to achieve maximum success. Third, it is necessary to patiently practice the FUNDAMENTALS from the first point. Finally, I believe the research indicates that visualization of successful implementation of the fundamentals may be a useful aspect for the process approach particularly for the more physical activities.

  28. Calvin Connor

    What are the three most important ideas that you learned about the process approach?
    The most important ideas concerning the process approach are the most basic steps to succeed when applying the process:
    1. Choose a successful “expert” as a model
    2. Research his techniques, and compare them to your own and other’s to discover why his techniques are best (or why yours aren’t)
    3. Practice the best techniques discovered to perfection- Don’t stop improving yourself!

  29. Lee Johnson

    The three most important ideas I gleamed from the process approach are:
    Learn from the best and practice what works. They have perfected their practice, why reinvent the wheel.
    Don’t over commit to too many ideas. Focus on one or two and strive for perfection.
    Nothing happens overnight, be patient.

  30. Some of the most important elements of the process approach is to learn from a master (pick the right teacher), and learn the best fundamentals since they’re hard to relearn. This has become apparent to me through instrumental playing. Before becoming an engineering major I was a cello performance major; it seemed each time I went to a better teacher I ended up breaking down my basic technique and relearning the most rudimentary fundamentals that I had taken for granted—play nothing but long tones and critically examining what my hands and joints were doing. Each time I broke down my technique it took forever to relearn the elementary mechanics that constituted the foundations of playing the instrument. It would have been much more efficient to start taking lessons from a world class teacher and learn the fundamentals correctly the first time.
    Additionally, what strikes me about the process approach is that, when on the journey, you have to constantly examine and self critique how you are doing against the standards that you’re learning. Going back to music, you have to be your own worst critic and constantly examine how well you’re doing; break down every action, every single note and phrase. You could just ‘put in the time’ and run straight through the music over and over without going back and breaking down each aspect; however at this point you’re just giving yourself concerts… only problem is, you don’t make much money giving yourself concerts.
    The same principle of relentless improvement applies to improving any skill, learning problem solving, etc.

  31. Robert Rainey

    Three most important steps in the process approach for me are that everything is not going to come as easy as you think. It takes time to be great and everyone starts at a different point. If you want to incorporate values exhibited by great people then study them and try to do what they do. Apply the continued process improvement approach through feedback and self-assessment to improve on these steps

  32. Clint Adams

    Process approach three important ideas to me:
    1) Identifying the professional(s) -> figure out how to learn from them -> know what they know.
    2) Set aside status quo, don’t question just do, over and over.
    3) Identify and understand what makes it work, why does this different method work better than the way everyone else does it. Where else can this be applied?

  33. Clint Adams

    Random thoughts, a little off topic.

    The process approach is a great way to get good at things fast, but what about when there isn’t an expert yet? How did the experts become experts? How does one blaze the trail in some new area?

    I believe that it is important to be able to see the nuances of what makes the experts so good at what they do in their fields, and apply them to new fields. I suppose this in itself would require a level of expertise and training. Regardless, pioneers in their fields like Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein probably didn’t emulate other experts. What made them different? When the next Edison or Einstein emerges, what will their contribution?

  34. Brandon Wade

    The main important idea about the process approach is having a set amount of goals before you perform something. For example, if you are learning how to ski, you don’t just start out actually trying to do the sport. Usually an instructor will give you background information and certain techniques without skis on to give the fundamentals of turning, stopping, etc. Another idea is relaxing and moving at a slow and comfortable pace. If an individual is trying to rush everything at once at skiing, instead of practicing certain key techniques then the individual will get overwhelmed and not benefit as well as they could have. Therefore, when learning how to ski, it’s always good to focus on certain things at one time. While I go down this run, I’ll focus on keeping my shoulders parallel to the run, stay upright (don’t lean too forward or too back), work on rolling the ankles smoothly etc. All professionals took a long time to master their skill, so relaxing and taking your time is highly beneficial. Finally, the last important idea is receiving feedback. Without feedback, there is no way to assess your progress. Feedback is how an individual learns and fixes their mistakes. As a new skier is skiing down a run, the instructor will provide feedback on what they are doing well and what they are doing wrong. This makes the skier become that much closer to mastering their new skill.

  35. Top 3 things learned from the process approach:
    1. Repetition for effect. This applies to good and bad things. If trying to learn how to excel at something it takes practice and lots of reps but be wary of the correctness of your practice. If you practice incorrect form or though process then you have to re-wire the brain to get to the correct line.

    2. Study the best. This goes for all endeavors in life. Look at what the best in the field do and emulate their behavior, thought processes, and motivations.

    3. Keep the scope focused. By not putting too many irons in the fire, one will be able to work on a few tasks with more dedication and will see better results.

  36. Effat Takaleh

    I believe that the three most important ideas about the process approach are the following:

    1)Being patient on what I am doing, every thing takes time but at the same time it requires patience, so with patience along to practice great things will be accomplished.

    2)Practicing everything learned the human-being tend to forget and not to keep up with what they are learning so with practicing it we can still remember what we learned.

    3)Focusing and narrowing on only two things would give us the great benefit of what we learned.

  37. Andrew Sedgwick

    Process approach

    1. Find great professionals that have accompolished the same goal already.

    2. Practice and get feedback for process.

    3. Be patient

  38. Better late than never. Maybe these thought are specific to me and my issues, but these are what I see as important for me to utilize the process approach.

    1) Persistence. As I contemplate on things I’d like to be better at, I realize I’m not good at them because I’m not persistent. I’ve heard of tricks of the trade others use, but haven’t persisted in utilizing those tricks daily.
    2) I think part of it is honing in on what it is you really do want to be good at. As others have noted–focusing on what you want to improve on, so you know what type of people to seek out as a mentor.
    3) Wanting it bad enough to seek out mentors and knowlege and wanting it bad enough to work at it.

  39. Cody Litzko

    1.find what has already been done. keeps you from repeating something that has already been done

    2.Narrow down and focus on one or two fundamentals at a time. Strive to do fundamentals perfectly (do them very slow) Do many repetitions of the fundamentals

    3.Be patient

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