Updated: Nov 3, 2019
You’re at work, you’re trying to complete a basic task, but when you take that brave step forward, you’re presented with endless hoops of fire. What caused this situation and why are some simple tasks so complicated?
As I go through many processes, I find myself asking, “What were they thinking?! (or often not thinking). A process would give direction to complete a task. When said task would require a change or even minor adjustment, the task in its entirety would require a separate process just to make any adjustments. This would easily double the original required work. Undoubtably further complicating the process, which results in an increase in redo work. Surround yourself with a couple of these processes and in the end, you find yourself running in circles of fire, busy as hell, and with nothing to show for it. (make sure you hit the LIKE if that last sentence resonates with you)
“Hell is paved with good intentions.”
- John Ray, 1670
Are these processes complicated on purpose by some mad scientist hell bent on making life miserable? Most of the time…no. It happens little by little, one good intention at a time. Once a process gets built up with improvements, another layer is added. It can happen one small sentence at a time from each improvement. But after a while, it can build up into a glorious hoop of fire ready for its next victim. One contribution example could be rushed CAPAs (Corrective Actions Preventative Actions), which don’t have the right amount of planning and are only there to “check the box” in order to achieve completion. Another contribution could be from having the wrong person/people making the improvements. Have you ever had someone write or update an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) that hasn’t even performed the actual activity? The misunderstanding of the activity almost always results in unnecessary steps as well as the process being all-together incorrect.
So, how do we avoid the snowball effect of building our processes into productivity death traps?
“The road to heaven is paved with good actions.”
- Tucker Max, 2013
Keep it Simple! Doing a complicated task and improving it through a complicated process does not make it intelligent. I’m afraid that it’s quite the opposite. Keep it simple, take the time to come to a proper solution, and involve the correct people and/or resources to create that solution. Adding steps should be a last resort. When you go from Point A to Point B, adding Point C between A and B does not improve the process. It often complicates it. don’t look at the result, but the true source. Points A and B should be evaluated and improved instead of adding Point C to make up for their flaws.
Next time a process must be debated or explained repeatedly, that is your red flag that it is unclear and overcomplicated. Look at the number of steps and variables in the process, find the true source and improve it, then lean down the unnecessary steps.
People or teams that complicate the process, even though it’s with good intentions, are extremely dangerous to departments and even entire companies. Again, take a step back and keep it simple.
So, remember, beware the smart ones! The best solution is often the simplest.
What activities are you going through that should be simpler and less influenced by the "smart ones"? Share below in the comments section to benefit you as well as the Sigmasmith community.
Thanks for reading.