Ten Questions for Removing Complexity at Work

Related imageHave you ever had times when you went into a store to return something and the clerk helping you made it difficult? I’ve often wondered why something so simple could be made so problematic. I often think that one major possibility is that the process the clerk has to go through is so challenging that they want nothing more than to get you out of the way so they can avoid the complexity. I say this because I experienced it when I worked in retail many long years ago. The particular place had a return policy and procedure that was so cumbersome that it was easier to disappoint a customer than it was to perform the procedure. So, we, the employees, often did it, we pissed off a customer rather than having to go the through return-process hell.

Do you see this in your workplace? How many systems are simply out of alignment with employee and customer ease?

Some of you might be grumbling to yourself that work isn’t meant to be easy, it is work after all, but as our friends at FranklinCovey tell us, effective leaders create systems that make it easier to achieve results. When you make things easy for employees, you make it easier for customers as the product-return example illustrates, and if that’s not enough, making employees’ lives easier allows for more efficiency and less errors which means lower costs. You see, ease and lower complexity can make life better – for everyone including the boss.

So, when’s the last time you reviewed your systems and processes? Here are ten questions to help in this review.

  1. What are the key objectives of your team or work group?
  2. What are the systems necessary to reach those objectives?
  3. What are the steps necessary for each system to be successful?
  4. Are all those who touch each system necessary?
  5. Are there any unnecessary steps in any of the systems?
  6. Are there any redundant steps any of the systems?
  7. Is the sequence of steps in each system logical and uncomplicated?
  8. Is any training needed?
  9. Are any additional resources needed?
  10. How will changes to any of these systems improve the lives of those who use and are served by them?

Now, armed with answers and ideas, go and make change. Tear down the old and bring in the new so that employees’ and customers’ lives are improved.

Ask these questions regularly. Never stop getting better. Work doesn’t have to be hard, in fact, it should be as easy as possible for everyone involved. Why you ask? The better question is why not?

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