Process refers to the flow and transformation of substance (i.e. mei).
The term refers to a flow of mei (or substance) through space-time, as for example the flow of water in a river or the movement of a body from one place to another. In the figure, process is symbolised by the orange wavy line along which the mei dots flow.
The term processing means that the mei is worked on. Processing transforms input mei (e.g. foodstuffs) into an output mei (e.g. a cake). During processing, the mei is referred to as throughput mei (e.g. the dough).
As the mei is being processed, the mei fields split up and are reassembled into products and by-products. For example, cake ingredients are unpacked and mixed together, making dough as a product and leaving eggshells and wrapping papers as by-products.
Each transformation of mei marks a processing phase. For example, the cake-baking activity system goes through the phases of ingredient assembly, mixing the dough, baking and icing the cake. During each phase value is added. This means that during processing new qualities emerge that are not necessarily inherent in the input mei and that these qualities are perceived as value. Depending on the qualities one looks for, a phase can also have sub-phases. For example, the dough mixing sub-phase can go through a crumbly, smooth and frothy dough sub-sub-phases.
If a process is purposeful (i.e. has an aim), is structured and regulated to achieve its aim, we call it a process system or activity system. In the management literature, the term (business) process typically refers to a process system or activity system according to our definition.
If a process is not purposeful, structured and regulated to achieve its aim, it is a random process. There are many random processes happening in any system (e.g. accidents, happenings, free radicals).
The flow of mei continues as (intended) products and (often unintended) by-products across system boundaries, from one activity system to another.
relevance for the change manager
Change management must ensure desirable transformation of mei and the continuity of mei flow of both products and by-products along horizontal and vertical supply chains.