By Shauna Summers
As time marches on past General Conference, it seems that we are processing the events of General Conference and the decisions about moving forward in two different ways: we tend to be focused on either the outcome, or by the process we took to get to the outcome. Each of us has our own answer -- and much like other important questions; there is no one right answer. There is no “best” way. If we think of these two approaches as both being fruit, one would be an apple and the other would be an orange. Both fruits are good, yet each fruit is unique and different.
Being a Process Oriented or Outcome Oriented person doesn’t make one type better than another type -- it means there are two ways to be oriented to challenges and BOTH are important because both bring different gifts to the table. Are you an Outcome or a Process person? The Process is the way we go about getting to the outcome. In sports terms I would say: “It’s not about who wins the game, it is about how the game is played.” Some say, “the joy is in the journey, not the destination” and others may talk about “the end justifying the means.”
Like our taste buds, each of us will “see” situations as either the process or the outcome dominant. The more sophisticated our palette becomes, the more we can enjoy eating an apple and an orange at the same time. With practice we are able to understand how the Process and the Outcome are equally important - there is no one right answer.
A process person finds the joy in the journey, not the destination for example. A process person also emphasizes the importance of the discernment or discussion over the outcome. The steps we took in order to reach a decision are more important than the decision itself. For example, were we kind and considerate to each other throughout the discernment and discussion phases of this decision? Analyzing the steps taken to get to the outcome are viewed as more important than the decision itself because the process reveals more about the relationship dynamics and who each person on the journey is and what they stand for. Process is about discovery and curiosity. If something got in the way of civil discourse, then focusing on the process is designed to take the blame out of the equation and uses collaboration to identify which element in the process was problematic and how that element can be tweaked so it is no longer problematic. The goal is that next time we go through this process, the path will be that much smoother and easier to traverse.
An outcome person tends to focus on the destination instead of the journey. An outcome person emphasizes the final decision as more important than the steps taken to achieve the outcome decision. The decision is more important that the means by which it was achieved. The decision is the basis for constructing the rules and consequences for future behavior. Outcome is about setting boundaries and establishing normality. If the outcome decision is not reliable and valid enough to build expectations for future behavior on, then focusing on logical analysis is designed to take the emotion out of the equation. The goal of this approach is to remove the problematic parts of the outcome decision so rules can be put in place.
Much like the body of Christ being created from many unique parts, both the process and outcome are important and need attention. Try to use whichever set of tools best fits you, and work toward removing the blame and the emotions from your side of the conversation. The next step is critical, honest, and rhetorical self-reflection: what mistakes have I made in this process? There are two sides to every story and typically enough pain and culpability to go around.