Today I’m thankful for process improvement.
Detailed work is not my most favorite. As a matter of fact, detailed work usually makes me itch and I’ll chew off my arm to avoid it if at all possible. Today I made myself face down the details. I threw down the guantlet at an excruciatingly detailed process on hopes of finding ways to make it more efficient. That was how I talked myself into the mess… My constant desire to take something apart to see how it works and then re-build it better… All the while hoping that the extra parts that are leftover at the end weren’t necessary. And that is how I talked myself into doing payroll today.
This process is insanely detailed as our associates want to make exactly as much as they are supposed to make and our clients want to be billed exactly how much they want to be billed. A mistake in the simple process is a quick way to show sloppiness and your I attention to detail. As such, it is critical that it is done correctly. And it has been, but it seemingly take forever. Way to long for a process that is relatively simple. While I had many ideas on why it was taking so long I knew that I had to get elbows deep in it to really understand what was happening.
After today I’m very glad that I jumped in! First off, some of my theories were totally wrong and some of the solutions I offered up made the delays worse. My guessing was off at times and I had added a “fix” that slowed too many things down. Funny how when observing we think we know what’s wrong we solve the problem using that paradigm, but once we’re actually in it we can see clearly. While I was right in some aspects, others were way off.
Second, jumping in as a learner helped me question almost everything. There was no question too basic and I actively sought out advice and ideas to help me out. Doing this helped me stumble onto a couple of solutions that we hadn’t been doing. In both cases we were just going with the status who as opposed to thinking. Cruise control can be good at times, but you still need to pump the brakes and get a feel for things once in a while.
Last, it was fun to take on something so far out of my comfort zone and work on making it better just for the sake of making it better. While I was visibly stressed when going through the most detailed parts I was smiling knowing that we would be saving many hours each week because of this. It was a very rewarding part day project similar to woodworking.
While parts of this were totally not fun the rewards of helping take some stress off of my team and allowing them more time to help our clients and associates was totally worthwhile. I’m very thankful that I made it a priority to help get this relatively simple process back on the track to more simplicity!