Process is a scrim. Under these conditions, its flaws are well-lit and its limitations infuriating. But with a slight lighting change, it disappears to reveal the outline of figures behind it.

Process is real. It has measurable, concrete effects on people who don’t understand it. The process for applying for unemployment; the process for group deliberation; the process of a toddler’s bedtime—most things that matter involve process.

Justice is a process.

Focus too intently on the mechanics of a process and you miss the human actors enmeshed in it. Some of those actors built the process. Their motives and incentives are fair game for scrutiny. But others behind the scrim have their hands on it now, and they’re using it for aims it may not have been designed to pursue. They’re not passive actors.

These are the questions I put to complaints about process: do we understand it as well as we can? And can we wield it to do the things we want to do? If the answer to either question is “no,” we have work to do.

One thought on “Process

  1. Thank you for this strong perspective, Rocky. I am involved in processes myself, and sometimes I get so wrapped in them that I start thinking “What am I going to do?” I keep a lot of lists — To Do and Have Done, you might call them — to show myself where I am in each process.

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