I was once discussing with two business partners how to upgrade their company’s technology. When I suggested we first examine their current order processing system, one partner launched excitedly into a detailed explanation of how it all works: Orders are taken by phone, then someone handwrites an order form, then it goes to billing, and so on and so forth. He explained the ins and outs of their complicated system for tracking orders, packing and shipping items at their warehouse.
When he finished, clearly proud of the efficiency of his whole operation, I asked: “What if there is a better way?”
He stared at me blankly. “What do you mean a ‘better way?’ We’ve developed management systems, back-office solutions, safety nets. This is the way we’ve been doing things for years. If it isn’t broke, why fix it?”
Here’s where so many business leaders fail to maximize their growth potential: they unknowingly evolve their systems and processes to be much too complex. Rather than keeping it simple and scalable, they “overcomplexity” the way they do things, preventing the business from growing as fast as they could be—and should be. When your business is burdened by intricate, inefficient processes, it’s just a matter of time before your customers, employees, and the future of the company are negatively impacted.
The fact is, wine becomes better with age, but an outdated process does not. Just because you’ve been doing something for years doesn’t mean it’s the best way. What separates thriving businesses from struggling ones is their willingness to challenge the status quo and simplify when necessary.
On that note, here are three Ptex Practical Pointers to help you
1. Ask, ask, ask.
If you’re wondering where to start, look at a system that your customers or employees tend to complain about or get annoyed by. Break down the problems, ask for feedback, and work with your team to find a suitable solution.
2. Ride your own train.
Have you ever tried ordering from your own company to experience your own systems and processes from the client’s perspective? Give it a try, and see for yourself what it’s like to be in your customer’s shoes. Then go in and fix the parts that are too cumbersome or complex.
3. Encourage employee communication
Foster a culture at your workplace where employees understand that one of the ways they can show value is to speak up if a system needs updating and improvement and help make it more efficient. And if you are an employee, speak up if you see a way to improve a process—no matter how long it’s been done that way.
Ironic as it may be, it’s usually easier for us to make things complex than it is to make them simple. It won’t happen overnight, but constantly seeking our ways to simplify your business is the only way you can hope to grow and scale.