We live in an increasingly complex world. However, we do not always seek the simplest solution to our problems. Sometimes out of fear of change, lack of communication or time. But simplifying has many advantages and it would be a shame to miss it.
Find out why and how to take concrete action.
Why simplifying work is the key to achieving your goals
Already because complex processes are very often synonymous with slowness. If you need 10 levels of validations and the alignment (of the planets) of 20 people to obtain a budget, you will lose several months just for this part and your fabulous idea will have been implemented by a more agile competitor. Not to mention the cost of mobilizing these people… That would be a shame, wouldn’t it? Simplifying allows you to go faster AND save resources.
Then because we are more efficient when the processes are simple and fluid. If we don’t need approval for your project budget and the alignment between a few key people has been done in parallel, you can focus on what really matters: testing and iterating to create value for your customers.
You will also gain serenity and therefore well-being. Fewer complicated things = less knots in the brain and therefore energy spent (or even wasted) unnecessarily in these meanders.
Are you convinced? Let’s see how to do that.
Save time and efficiency with Agile tools and methods
Tool n°1: fluid interactions rather than rigid processes
I love Agility because it’s a way of working that brings simplicity to teams and project management. An Agile team will prioritize interactions with people, rather than a process. And just this aspect can already save a lot of time.
Imagine that a process is in place to validate a document and that this process requires that a specific group of people can do it, only via a specific tool. Knowing that these people are numerous and are overwhelmed with requests, this can be a problem in the event of an emergency.
One way to simplify this process is to go see or contact one of the people in the group directly (no emails) to obtain validation. And if you REALLY need a trace (I like to challenge the reasons for this obligatory aspect sometimes), enter the request into the system afterwards.
Tool n°2: Back to Basics
The same goes for methods: do you really need lots of columns and statuses in your tracking tables? A “To do, in progress, done” is often enough. We just tend to forget it because we get more complex as we grow in a project, a team. We forget to challenge ourselves on “keep it simple” and what that means for you or for the team.
- what are the minimum steps to achieve to reach our objective? By trying to be as close to zero (hell of a challenge!)
- what does a “simple” way of working mean for me, for the team?
- what does it actually look like?
Tool n°3: Prioritize your tasks
Another way to simplify work is to prioritize and set limits of projects or tasks that we can, individually or as a team, complete in the same amount of time.
For example, my sidekick Olie is able to handle 3 small projects in a month. She will therefore prioritize her to-do list and tackle the first project: four newsletters to write. Once she has finished, she can tackle her second project: writing about ten pages for her website, etc.
If she tackles everything at once, she will face the cost of task switching and the fatigue that comes with it. It will therefore be much less effective than if it deals with things one after the other, having defined a priority that suits it.
Tool n°4: hunt down useless meetings
On a team scale, one way to simplify is to look at how to reduce the number of meetings and make the remaining ones efficient. You will be able to clearly define the goal and expectations from everyone in advance, otherwise you will be refused the meeting, for example. Such a team rule is extremely effective!
As you will have understood, the idea is to go back to basics, and to regularly inspect the way you work, to make sure you don’t fall back into the trap of complexity. We want to work better, at a sustainable pace over time. And be careful not to deviate from this trajectory!
Mistakes to absolutely avoid to simplify your work
Mistake n°1: Royally ignoring the idea of prioritization.
No one is bound to the impossible, they say. Your days are “only” 24 hours long. Do you really want to spend your time on things that have little added value? It’s all about priority.
Find a way that works for you and stick to it. Do the exercise regularly to always have a scheduled to-do list. If you say “yes” to this new task, what are you going to say “no” to?
Mistake n°2: Never challenge your way of working
Not only do you run the risk of piling up processes and falling into unparalleled complexity, but you will end up finding yourself stuck in the face of the vagaries of our uncertain and constantly changing world.
Hunt for the useless. Every month (or other frequency of your choice), spend some time cleaning up your processes or the way you work. Be honest and courageous: do not hesitate to give up. The fewer things we carry in the backpack, the lighter and faster our steps will be.
Mistake n°3: Not taking time for yourself
We are not Robots ! We need rest, breaks.
If you can’t do everything: delegate or reprioritize. Taking a few minutes to recharge, walk a little, breathe for a while, increases productivity. This is no longer to be proven!
If you still have guilt about doing it: test. Take small steps by giving yourself a break of 2 min, then 3 then 5 and maybe 15 min.
You will quickly realize that this “lost” time is not wasted, since there is a good chance that you will be much more productive after this moment of break.
As you have understood, simplifying will save you a lot of resources: yours, but also time and money. Simplification mechanisms are within everyone’s reach. As with everything: you have to take the first very small step to get started and continue to progress on this path.