From Mountains Down to Molehills: 5 Ways to Simplify Work
Stop, in the name of execution, before you overburden and burn out your employees!
OK, the bad song parodies end there. And some advice on simplifying work to increase productivity and efficiency—and reduce preventable stress—starts here. Instead of creating mountains out of what should probably be molehills, do these 5 things:
1. Use RPCI to make sure you’re focused on the right things. Simplicity Expert Lisa Bodell reminds us that “productivity isn't about doing more on your to-do list. It's about ensuring what's on your to-do list is worth your time in the first place.” So, before you spend the time crossing off every item, validate your plan and the tasks associated with it to be sure all steps are necessary, you’ve delegated appropriately, and there isn’t busy work or outdated activity present. And, be sure you’re doing the right things in the right order. Need help? Moovila’s SmartSchedule prioritizes your workload based on Risk, Priority, Capacity, and the needs of Interdependent projects—so you can see the most efficient order in which to execute tasks across your portfolio. 2. When you can’t kill unnecessary meetings, streamline them with these tips. When you meet frequently, there isn’t time to make progress before the next meeting. Instead, it feels more like a game of tail-chasing and CYA. The Boston Group found that in the most complex organizations, managers spend 30-60% of their time in meetings, and employees of these organizations are 3 times more likely to be disengaged. Oof. Consider changing weekly meetings to a biweekly cadence to give yourself and your team more time to actually get work done. And try trimming hour-long meetings down to 30 minutes. If you have an agenda and prepared goals, a half hour should be ample time and will help maintain focus.
3. Use Critical Path, not Gantt, to get efficient. Adobe found that its performance management process takes almost 1.8 million person-hours per year to complete, according to Deloitte, Read that again. The review process alone takes almost 2 million hours of employees’ time each year. This well-established organization’s complex process is a great, big red flag that business processes are too complex. Look for ways to trim down and eliminate any unnecessary or repetitive work streams. Moovila’s Critical Path Engine is a great tool for visualizing workflows and evaluating project plans to ensure success and reduce friction.
3B. And, do you have processes in place where you need them? While “too much” process can slow you down, "not enough” process is also an efficiency drain—especially for infrequent yet repeatable activities. Even small projects with minimal steps can benefit greatly from being templatized to help save time remembering how and what to do each time.
4. Delegate decisions, not just work. Taking another cue from Bodell, give your people the power to make decisions without you (within reason and appropriate boundaries). This will limit the number of meetings and back and forth over email. And more importantly, it will allow your employees to autonomously focus on getting quality work done.
5. Proactively assess risk. Speaking of molehills; don’t let them become mountains. Be aware of and solve for potential problems early so you can prevent major issues from delaying your timeline. And lean on technology to do the math for you. Moovila helps forecast project risk by evaluating your project plan and calculating all factors that could create bottlenecks and delays within your critical path including task durations, priority, capacity, and more.
Making minor modifications to the way your organization approaches work could produce major gains in productivity and other unforeseen positive ways. For example, UPS decided to remove left turns from their delivery routes, which greatly reduced their delivery times, fuel costs, and accidents. What can you cut from your processes—and gain in doing so?