Prohibiting left turns may seem like a strange way to simplify, but this single decision has hugely impacted UPS. As a result of its drivers avoiding left turns, the company saves 10 million gallons of gas annually, delivers 350,000 more packages every year, and it reduced its average time per delivery.
8 simplifying tips to slow your company's processes down
To improve processes in your own organization, try to find your own version of UPS’ No-More-Left-Turns. Consider the following eight tactics and choose one to try one this week:
1. Shorten employee onboarding. Kill long-winded orientations by offering on-demand learning during an employee’s tenure. Focus their orientation on just the basics and schedule a Q&A meeting two to four weeks after their start date, when employees have a better grasp on their responsibilities.
2. Hold Bureaucracy Buster sessions. During these sessions at Google, employees are empowered to identify and remove barriers to their own productivity and efficiency. At your company, propose a Bureaucracy Buster to leadership or offer to host the session yourself.
3. Replace a main process with its workaround. If a team member creates a workaround that speeds up a certain process, make a case for establishing it as the new protocol.
4. Make expense reports less annoying. To reduce the time people spend assembling their expense reports, stop demanding receipts for low-cost items under a certain amount.
5. Ask “who will miss this?” Before simplifying a process or procedure, break it down into steps and identify who benefits from the information. If the answer is consistently “no one,” or “it’s just a nice thing to have,” just eliminate the process altogether.
6. Cut the crap by committee. The audio retailer Richer Sounds created a Cut the Crap Committee, where managers reduce bureaucracy by identifying and stopping unproductive systems and paperwork.
7. Offer unlimited vacation. At LinkedIn, Virgin, and many other organizations, HR no longer has to monitor accrued vacation time for employees. From saved admin hours to increased morale, unlimited time off offers an efficient alternative to the traditional vacation policy. And from CEO to another, if time off starts affecting an employee’s performance or work quality, empower managers to adjust the policy for that individual.
8. Make simplification mandatory in strategic planning. For every new strategy that’s added to your annual plan, remove an initiative that was rolled over from last year. Identifying what teams should stop doing in the coming year is just as essential as outlining what they need to start doing.
Examining how everyday tasks get done in your organization can help steer the business in a simplified direction. Encourage your team to question any process without purpose—and urge leadership to reward employees who identify ways to simplify processes. Review your internal processes regularly, and watch the status quo in your organization start shifting away from complexity and toward a simpler, smarter way to work.