The Right Process vs. The Right Result: Don’t Judge Solely By Results

It’s an easy enough concept but it’s one worth repeating:

Just because you take the right actions does not mean you will get the right results.

The easiest way to think about it is with Texas Hold’em:

You can be heads-up, all-in preflop with pocket aces (best hand possible) and still lose.

Right process.  Wrong result.

This happens all the time in real life.

I believe it happened to the Spurs win they lost the devastating Game 6 in the 2013 NBA Finals.

They were up by 3 (or 5 can’t remember) and took out Tim Duncan for defensive purposes (to guard against the 3) and then got burned when they were unable to collect a rebound.  The ball went right to Chris Bosh who immediately found a wide open Ray Allen for 3 to the game.

Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich said the same call would be made again.

The Spurs know the process was right; they simply got a bad result.

Bad results happen.  You cannot avoid them – even with the perfect plan and perfect execution.  There are too many unknowns and chance elements at play.

For example, if I were to drive a very safe car, follow all the rules of the road, and drive defensively, I could still end up in a car wreck.

My process would be right even if I ended up with a bad result.


Ultimately results reign supreme.  Results are what everybody goes by and rightfully so.  We have to have a definitive evaluator (money, championships, GPA, weight, objectives being met, etc.) to judge performance.

But process is what drives results.  Process is what we should pay attention to because it is the entities with the best process that will yield the best results.


This is why the best sports teams (Patriots, Spurs) continually end up in a position (advancing deep into the playoffs) to win the championship.  Their process is correct so they have a higher percentage chance at winning the championship.

100% conversion rate isn’t realistic.  However, it is realistic to win a disproportionately large amount of the time by virtue of having better processes.

Warren Buffet rules the world of stock investing because of his processes.  His “secret” is his process which boils down to knowing the company (its revenue, profits, executives, etc.) intimately and studying its market intently.

Warren’s information advantage is so strong that his rate of success with each investment is extremely high.  Warren also buys stocks to hold over the long term which takes out many of the short-term variables which are always present in business.

Could an unforeseen circumstance cause him to lose money or make a bad investment?  Of course, but Warren’s proven that his process is the best in the world so I’m sure he can accept whatever losses he incurs.

Live with Results, Dedicate to Process

The right process influences results greatly but process isn’t a guarantee of result.  However, it is a guarantee that your chance of success will improve.

Keep doing the right things and eventually you’ll get the right outcomes.