Positive Path Recommended Reading

What out-of-date processes have you forgotten to notice?
By Robyn Pearce

How many of your staff are very busy doing paperwork which is no longer necessary? 

I ran an extended time management programme with a rapidly expanding and very successful international security company. One session focussed on time challenges. A junior member of staff wanted help on how to reduce the pressure of a routine data-collection and report-creation task, which has been done by the company since Adam was a cowboy. 

Almost by accident (except - there are no accidents!) instead of focusing on how to improve the process, some very important questions were asked. 

  • Why are we collecting this data? 
  • Where does it go? 
  • Who uses the information? It may have been useful when we were a small company, but does this process still need to be done in the same way? 
  • Even if we continue part of the process, what shortcuts can we take? 

Within 5 minutes, a whole new way of looking at the problem was created - and the staff member's problem was solved in a way she'd never imagined. 

What processes are done 'because we've always done it this way'?

Consider your own company, no matter what size. 

  • How many administrative staff beaver away, conscientiously collecting data for reports that no one really needs? 
  • How many trees and hours go into those unnecessary reports?
  • Even if some of the information is still necessary, what other format could it be presented in? Could it be e-mailed as an attachment, leaving those who really need the data to take responsibility for running off a copy of the bits they need? 

Tip No. 1 - Ask the newest person on the staff what time savers they can see. Usually when someone's new they're reluctant to rock the boat by making unsolicited comment. By the time they're confident enough to say something about time-wasting techniques, they're moulded to the culture and have forgotten their early wisdom. 

Tip No. 2 - Think like a new person yourself. Go through your office procedures with a 'Why do we do this?' mindset. I guarantee that you'll find things to save time, money and resources on. 

Tip No. 3 - If you're still challenged, bring in an outsider to ask the questions and facilitate the thinking process. It helps to take personalities out of the equation. After all, you may be challenging something which very conscientious people have spent years of their lives doing - just because 'it's the way we do it round here'. 

About the author: Robyn Pearce, of TimeLogic Corporation, has helped 1000's of folks in 'Getting a grip on their time'. Visit http://www.gettingagripontime.com for FREE subscription to her email that includes "how-to" practical time management assistance, books, tapes, products, and more.

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