new to you friday–eighth track

After I originally posted this, one reader told me how much he liked it and asked if I had written anything else on “P4.” Two years later I still haven’t, but I see examples each week, across industries, of dysfunction caused by poor processes or miscommunication. So the original track is still on frequent rotation.


Every person is a CD with recurring “tracks”—comments, opinions or rants they can always be counted on to share when a given topic comes up.

For instance, my mom’s blood starts boiling when the conversation turns to Bible college students (often preaching majors) who think studying literature or anything non-hermeneutical is a waste of time. And it’s a righteous anger, too, because who are these 21 year old kids who have so much life experience and wisdom that they don’t—at the least—need artistic works as sources for sermon illustrations? (Read this for more on that.)

Or there’s my wonderful dad who, two minutes into watching any rerun, even the Cosby Show episodes my brother and I have memorized, will say, “You know, I don’t think I’ve seen this one.” (Hey, there are worse things than regular happy surprises from new-to-you TV.)

And today yet another phone call with yet another leader pushed the button for my own recurring track: Politics and Personalities will always negatively fill the void created by a lack of Processes and Procedure.

Call it “P4,” and think about the organizational dysfunctions you’re involved in—have the leaders made thoughtful, intentional choices about where things are going and how everyone’s going to get there? Have they communicated them? Have they made consistent decisions based on them?

The IT department that never solves your problem but creates plenty of new ones—is a leader developing a help desk system and holding team members accountable?

The blistering friction between sales and marketing—has anyone defined “customer service” and delegated the authority for developing new strategies?

The hours lost forever to phone calls, emails and meetings just to put out fires or resolve misunderstandings among frustrated people—is someone creating a work flow and communication structure to keep the same scenario from playing out again?

It’s not always this simple, of course; there are many other factors (and people) contributing to conflicts. A few systems won’t fix everything, and a focus on policies over mission can backfire.

But we also veer off mission if our people have to navigate chaos or infighting to make progress. And I’ve seen it enough that “P4” has earned a place on Jen Taylor’s greatest hits.