Which is more important to get right, content or process? Is it better to do the right thing or do things right? Well, there are plenty of times where one or the other is most important, but in the vast majority of cases you have to get both right or you will suffer.

This weekend I am visiting my son, Gabe, at Bennington College and we are talking about Bennington’s unique “Plan” whereby students are not required to take any particular course, but must evaluate their experience after every semester to identify what worked and what did not. Then, with the help of their advisors, they narrow in on the college material that becomes their major activity.

This is a very process-heavy model. But, it relies on getting the content right for each student. Without the right content It is easy for the college experience to become an intellectual exercise that does not inspire creativity, passion or personal investment in the coursework. Without the student’s enthusiasm or buy-in, the academics don’t stick and the person does not develop.

In most situations you have to get the content and the process right, or the weak link undoes the strength of the other.

In every chain of reasoning, the evidence of the last conclusion can be no greater than that of the weakest link of the chain, whatever may be the strength of the rest.
– Thomas Reid