How to Create Operational Process with a Stable Team

Part One in a three-part series on how to start designing operational processes. Part Two covers the steps for an operational team in transition and onboarding new key roles, and Part Three for a dynamic team: one that is hiring.

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If hiring and onboarding are not a current focus in the business, a great way to begin implementing a process-driven operation is empowering the high-achievers on your team to define the standards for the functions they help run.

At Nick’s Pizza:

  • Every corner of the restaurant has “Ops Cards” - operational checklists that guide the team through each of their processes (above photo). The cards are flipped over when all processes listed have been completed. The last task / ops card for the day is one that states that the closing manager must turn all the other ops cards right-side again before locking the doors so the entire process can begin again in the morning.

    • When Nick created these cards, he empowered the best busboy to create the ops cards for bussing, the best bartender to create ops cards for the bar, etc. He recognized that his best team members knew more about the details and best practices in their roles than he did, and empowered them to create the standards for the company’s operation. 

  • As these star-players created the ops cards and processes for their roles, they broke down all items into their respective “art” and “science”. 

    • The science list went directly on the ops cards - these are the non-negotiable tasks that had to be done in a precise way. 

    • The art list defines the areas within the task where an individual has the opportunity to use creativity and personal touch. 

  • For example, when answering the phone at the take-out counter, the science is picking up the phone within three rings, stating a greeting first, and mentioning the company name. The art includes the person’s tone of voice and specific greeting and words used on the call; employees therefore have space to be their authentic selves when performing the task.  


  • The leaders don’t have to do all the process-documenting. It’s actually best done by the star employees in each of the company’s functional areas. 

  • Break down each process into art and science - specifically detailing what must be done and where team members have room to be creative.

Opportunities for Your Business:

  • Who are the high-performers in your company? Have you empowered them to set the company standards for their areas of the business?

    • After attending this class, Alex Sosnov, the COO of Tiesta Tea (Junto I), led and empowered his team in creating ops cards for their warehouse by crafting best practices for each of their processes.

  • Have you defined what aspects of each role and function must happen and are non-negotiable? Have you made team members aware of how and where they have creative freedom in their role and tasks?

    • At Junto, we use GQueues (a Google plugin; above photo) to define our “science” and function as our ops cards. We have these created for each of the program areas and have only just begun to formally document our “art” side.

    • Our first step was taking note of how different individuals moderate Mentor Team Meetings. The note-taker in the meeting would capture any words or phrases each individual used to moderate a meeting and paste those into a “moderator” channel on our team Slack. This gives the entire team visibility on how each person is handling moderation in their own way and provides a starting point for our documentation on examples for “art” in this area.

  • What documentation system works for your business?

    • In the case of a physical operation, like Nick’s Pizza or Tiesta Tea, physical cards might make sense. For a service-based operation, like Junto, digital checklists might be most appropriate. The idea here is to find a documentation system that fits well with your business: physical, digital, mobile, etc.


Click here to continue onto Part Two covering the steps for an operational team in transition and onboarding, and Part Three for a dynamic team: one that is hiring.