Borrowing from a popular framework for managing IT services, ALMA defines three core processes:
Operation, which is when we deliver the service.
Design, which is when we think about how the service should evolve in order to meet human needs better.
Transition, which is when we make the new design become the new normal.
Each of these processes has their own focuses:
Operation is about consistency within the limits the service is designed for. Manufacturing operation often try to minimize variation in order to produce consistent products. Personal assistants often try to maximize the ability to handle variation in order to meet different needs. Most operations are somewhere in between. We try to optimize the allowed variation. The thing is that everyone involved in a service should know what they provide and under what conditions, and what to do when the the conditions doesn't apply such as when the limits of acceptable variation are violated.
Design is about being sensitive about needs not currently met properly by the service, and inventive about possibilities to meet those needs. This is an ongoing process that involves everyone. The collection of ideas and the possibility to try them out should be built into the daily operations process.
Transition is about being gentle when changing. We avoid scary big bang changes and instead aim for continuous evolution. Services are constructed by different kinds of parts: humans in functions, digital components, infrastructure, facilities, other assets etc, and each part requires a certain kind of care when changing.
There are other processes as well, but these three are the main ones and many of the tools and techniques in ALMA are meant to be used within one of them.