What is process science?

Process science is the study of how energy flows through the universe.  There are 3 key elements studied in process science: energy, process and value. Process scientists use the process science principles to analyze human and business processes. Applied process science improves performance and reduces waste.

The definition of process science

Process science is an emerging scientific discipline which aims to understand the principles of energy flow. It achieves this understanding through the study of processes and observing the way energy moves through them to create value. Process scientists study processes in nature, humans, and business. This allows them to identify and analyze how these processes harness energy to create value, and what barriers may be causing blockages or waste in a given process.

Energy flow follows a universal pattern and set of “process principles”, which are distilled in the process maturity framework developed by process scientist Samuel Chin. The process maturity framework can be used to analyze any type of process, in order to improve performance, increase value and reduce waste. The outcome of successfully applying process science is a new version of the process which increases value creation and reduces waste and/or energy loss.

Where does the term process science come from?

The term process science was coined by Samuel Chin, a process improvement expert. Chin was seeking to describe his personal approach to the field of process improvement and organic business optimization. The process science discipline is related to the natural sciences: biology, chemistry and physics, due to its emphasis on the study of physical energy and the patterns of energy flow across nature, humans and businesses.

This perspective, which views businesses as a further stage of evolution and as living organisms in their own right, differs from other process improvement methodologies which tend to take a more mechanical view of business. Chin’s view is that the study of energy in living organisms at each layer of evolution–natural, human, and business–results in the refinement of certain universal principles of energy. These process principles allow us to view the entire world as an interconnected ecosystem, unlocking what Chin has called process vision.

The three elements of process science

The key elements we study in process science are energy, value, and process (which is simply the ways energy moves to create value).

Energy, in process science terms, refers to a force that allows for motion. It creates, transforms, and provides everything we need to power ourselves and our businesses.

Value is the difference between benefits and costs. Benefits are not always quantifiable — for example, a benefit could be that an output or product is better, cheaper, quicker than its alternatives, or simply that it makes you (the customer) look cool…etc. The lack of hard numbers related to benefits can make it difficult to calculate the value created by a process. Cost is easier to understand, as it simply refers to time and/or money spent to receive the perceived benefits of a given process’s output.

Process is what sits between energy and value. Anything in motion is a process.

These three elements come together in the first process principle: “energy flows through processes to create value”.

The goal in life, whether personally or professionally, is always to create more value, i.e. more benefits for less cost.

When is process science needed?

Whenever energy is going into a process and it’s being drained without creating much value, there is a need to analyze the process for energy blocks. Energy drains and leaks are indicative of a flow issue. Applied process science is about looking at the ways energy is blocked from flowing through a process smoothly, and removing any barriers or obstacles to that flow. This allows for more efficient value creation and waste reduction.

The process scientist’s job is to understand the barriers and obstacles to the flow of energy which can arise within processes. When we remove these blocks the flow is stronger and more powerful, and more value is created as a result.

In business, warning signs of disrupted flow might be a loss of profitability or inability to scale or grow effectively. In other words, energy is going into your business processes (in the form of labor and/or cash-flow); and value is not coming out at the magnitude you want. These might be processes which take a lot of effort, or which create a lot of waste.

That said, process science principles can be applied to any process, problem, or anything in your life where you expend energy. Applied process science is a valuable tool at any and all stages of personal and business growth.