Values of a Great Team: Simplify
Great organizations work tirelessly to keep things simple. This is another important element in our series on the Values of a Great Team: We simplify the process.
If you are in leadership, creating procedures and practices is part of our journey, and making them simple should be our goal.
Why are simple processes so vital?
No one likes complicated. When processes are complicated mistakes happen, training is hard, and generating updates is tedious. Complexity is expensive. It is less attractive to consumers. And it is more stressful to your staff. But simplicity is not necessarily easy to create.
Simplifying requires thinking.
Often, simplifying processes requires intense intentional thinking, which is quite taxing. And no one wants to stop and think about simplifying because we are all too busy doing. So most processes are created in a rush. We get in a hurry to implement something. We ask someone to come up with a system. And in my experience, all we really want is to just get started. Many times years go by, and we’ve never given any thought as to how that process might be improved upon and simplified.
To start simplifying, start small. Begin by asking your teams for ideas.
Here is an example from our clinics: A common procedure administered in a doctor’s office is to obtain a urine sample to test for infections and other ailments. Since 2004, we have stored the urine cups in each exam room. When the doctor needs a sample, the nurse gets a cup from the cabinet, writes the patient’s name on it, and hands it to the patient. Then we tell the patient to take the cup, go to the restroom, give us a sample and leave it in a metal box mounted in the wall of the restroom. These cups have to be restocked often in each exam room.
A few months ago, one of our team members asked, “Why don’t we place urine sample cups in the bathroom with a pen, instead of having to stock them in each room? All we’d have to do is to request that the patient grab a sample cup from a container we place in restroom, write their name on it, and provide their sample.”
Genius. And that’s exactly what we did. This small suggestion simplified the process for both patient and staff. But it took ten years for us to simplify this process. That is sad to me.
Anything can be simplified.
So, why did it take us ten years to review that simple process? Because everyone (including me) assumed that this is how it’s done, so we grew used to the system in place. It’s so common that we don’t acknowledge that any process, product, or service can be simplified and improved upon.
We must become leaders who make this question part of our culture: “How can we simplify this?”
Actionable Step: Discuss the importance of simplicity with your team. As a group, make a list of processes in place. Ask everyone to begin thinking of ways to improve them, and assign someone to track your progress. Start small.
What I am Reading Now: The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do by Jeff Goins.
For Further Reading: