A Simple Way to Save Time, Energy, Money and Stress LessNov 18, 2022
Welcome to Friday 411, issue, #004. In 4 minutes, with 1 insight and 1 action, you’ll discover how repeatable processes can transform efficiency and productivity.
Read Time: 3.5 Minutes
Research has shown that 80% of a business’s functions are repeatable. When a series of tasks must be performed more than once, document it to maximize efficiency.
I (Dorothy) recently had a dentist appointment. First, I sat in the waiting room watching a lady empty trash cans. She told me that she always has to “find ways to keep busy when she has nothing to do.” This lady turned out to be my hygienist who was supposed to be cleaning my teeth. The front desk hadn’t bothered to tell her I was there.
When they discovered their oversight, they apologized. But the rest of the visit was no better. The staff fumbled around, unsure of how to use their technology, which patients they should be serving, or who was responsible for what. When I finally saw the dentist, she informed me about a “newly discovered” issue and proposed a treatment plan. She failed to look at my history to see they had already been treating me for this condition for the past two years.
My dentist visit should have taken 30 minutes. Instead, it took over 2 ½ hours. Their team had yet to discover the productivity magic of repeatable processes.
Effective processes will save your team time, energy, and money. It also saves you from the frustration of having to remember how to do repeatable tasks.
An 8-Step Process for Developing Processes
In today’s Friday 411, you will learn a process for developing processes.
As an example, we’ll use a familiar process you perform almost daily: your process for getting ready for work.
1. Identify the desired outcome of the process.
Think about not only the result you want but also the qualities of that result.
As you get ready in the morning, the goal is more than arriving to work on time. Also, consider how you want to feel and the state of mind you want to be in.
Your desired outcome will direct your process. For example, you might say the desired outcome is: arrive in my office with a sense of calm, no later than 7:50 a.m. Your desire for a sense of calm will affect not only how early you leave but also what you listen to in the car.
If, however, you want to arrive in my office with energy and enthusiasm, you may select more upbeat music.
Take the time to clarify the outcome you want. All the other steps build on that vision.
2. Determine the starting and ending points of the process.
Every process begins with a trigger. The trigger could be time-based (6:00 am) or event-based (kids leave for school). Identify the trigger that initiates the process.
Next, determine the completion of the process. It’s important to identify the ending so that you can mentally transition from one process to the next. Your Get-To-Work Process might finish when you greet everyone in the office or open your laptop or brew some coffee.
3. List all the steps between the starting and ending points.
Start by brainstorming all the actions between the starting and ending points. Don’t worry about the order at this point.
Each step should be specific and actionable. For example, don’t write “bathroom tasks” as a step. Instead, list separate steps for:
- Brush Teeth
- Style Hair
- Apply make-up
4. Capture the resources needed for each step.
For each step, identify the resources you need for that step. For example, “Brush Teeth” requires toothpaste and a toothbrush.
This step is especially important when you have a team of people working together.
- Do you need login information?
- Do you need supplies?
- Does every need the same computer program?
Not every step will require resources, but knowing what you need will make for a smooth process.
5. Select the person responsible to do each step.
In teams (and families), most hiccups occur between steps where the stewardship of the process is passed from one person to another. A relay race provides a clear visual of teamwork and coordination. The baton must be passed with efficient precision from one participant to the next. If it is dropped, the baton bounces around the track, the runner fumbling to pick it up. When the process is interrupted by a botched handoff, the race is lost.
Determine who owns responsibility for each step and how the baton will be passed. In the case of getting ready in the morning, your spouse might be responsible to make sure the kids are dressed and ready. Then you take over and drive them to school.
6. Identify probable obstacles and determine solutions.
Good process design acknowledges that problems will occur and prepares for probable challenges. In your Get-to-Work Process, there are several potential obstacles:
1. Heavy traffic
Solution: plan to leave 10 minutes early every day.
2. Kids forget something at home
Solution: check everyone’s backpack before leaving for school.
3. Sleep through your alarm
Solution: Determine what can be cut from your morning process if necessary.
7. Arrange, automate, and eliminate steps.
Now it is time to put the steps of your process in order. By doing things in a specific order, you can enhance efficiency.
Ask yourself, “Can I automate any of these steps? For example, you could program your coffee maker the night before.
Also, determine if you can eliminate any steps. Do you really need to clean off the table before you leave? Can you listen to news in your car instead of doomscrolling your news app before you leave?
As you repeat a process, you will discover ways to make it more concise and efficient.
8. Document the process in a place where everyone can access it.
For something like a Get-to-Work Process that involves one individual in the same rhythm for years, you may not need documentation.
For a team, however, this is a vital step for communication. Use our Simple Process Spreadsheet to list the steps, resources, and person responsible for each step in the process. (Be sure to hit "Save As" to download your own copy of the Simple Process Spreadsheet.)
Select one repeatable process your team needs to design. Follow the 8-step process and capture it in the Simple Process Spreadsheet.
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