My favourite football player once said that football was a simple game made complicated by idiots and I am a firm believer that the same principle can be applied to the world of business. We can attempt to over complicate things as much as we like (sometimes this can be done deliberately as a way of demonstrating “value added or sometimes it can take place unintentionally) but throughout my career I have found that simple, easy to understand solutions work best. When Julian Metcalfe was at the helm at Pret he was well known for keeping things simple, in fact he used to challenges senior staff to come up with ideas which when explained to the newest team member would be immediately understood, his rational was that the front line teams were generally the ones that had to execute whatever cunning plan head office had come up with and that they were more likely to do a better job if they actually understood what it was we were trying to achieve.
So, if you want to keep things simple why would you want to introduce a process into a business? I find that the easiest way of answering this question is by referring to the world of HR. Let me explain why. here in the UK, most policies and procedures which have been put in place to deal with employees are based on simple principles such as common sense, fairness and consistency and if you follow these simple principles then you are generally assured of a happy outcome to whatever situation that you are dealing with, its only when you try and cut corners that you end up making a simple situation far more complicated. In fact, by following the right process you end up making your life much less complicated.
My point being that good processes are not the enemy of simplicity
So when I speak to entrepreneurial founders and they start to tell me that they want to keep their business simple (i.e. they don’t like process) i tend to ask them how else would they achieve the consistency of execution that they believe is missing from their business…….