Eliminate the Dumb Things

Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their jobs done. We spend a great deal of time and effort setting up operational processes and sometimes neglect the human side of the equation—the people processes.

There are many rules and procedures in the workplace that are unnecessary. They don’t help achieve corporate objectives, and instead, undermine and dispirit employees; they stress administrivia at the expense of value; and they get in the way of those trying to accomplish something.

It’s time to fix those broken people processes. Stop doing what doesn’t work, start new practices that drive results and watch what happens to the productivity in your shop.

We could all benefit by reviewing all policies and procedures to eliminate useless, make-work processes. Ask yourself: “How useful is this in helping us become the best that we can be? How useful is this for stimulating creativity and innovation?” If the answer is “It’s not,” eliminate it or change it.

Empower everyone in your company to wander around the office, the plant, the store, looking for all the unnecessary rules and regulations, and needless routines and processes. Make it safe for people at all levels to flag these and recommend changes.

Processes that involve people are often ignored because they are more difficult to handle. It is not uncommon for a business leader to feel that the technical problems are easy to fix; while the people problems, which involve emotions and are harder to predict and control, are bewildering. We also become used to outdated rules and practices that we may have lost the urge to question them, if we even notice them; we are numbed by rote activities that continue unchallenged. What a waste of people’s intelligence and energy.

Summing-up: As Peter Drucker has said, “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.”

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