While shuffling through all the (very) questionable content on my music library I came across something I hadn’t heard in a long long time.
Tim Minchin delivered this address to his alma mater- the University of Western Australia. As well as admitting he didn’t actually have a proper job, and after banishing the myth that science and arts are mutually exclusive, he brought up this point;
“A famous bon mot asserts that opinions are like arse-holes, in that everyone has one. There is great wisdom in this… but I would add that opinions differ significantly from arse-holes, in that yours should be constantly and thoroughly examined.
We must think critically, and not just about the ideas of others. Be hard on your beliefs. Take them out onto the verandah and beat them with a cricket bat.
Be intellectually rigorous…”
This has somehow always stuck in my head- probably because it pushed out other valuable information like the knowledge of my friend’s deathly allergy to nuts (again, sorry about those flapjacks Katie) and my pin number. Not only do I completely agree that opinions should be regularly tested and pulled apart but I also believe that constant examination should be applied to our workflow.
Thanks to the fact that time slips past us at a desperately unfair rate and by adding a constant influx of new work, we often leave our existing processes to rust and buckle under the pressure. ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is a way of thinking that we gradually slip into and then the quicksand of working life envelopes us and before we know it we’re stuck with this self-sabotaging mental approach.
[su_pullquote]Too often we focus on moving the company forward without reassessing our own current methods of working.[/su_pullquote]
Then the inevitable happens. Everything is fine until it isn’t. Often too late we realise that part of process isn’t scalable. But how? It always worked before? Yes but that was before, this is now. You have a new marketing guy and signed that contract with that Dutch company and now you outsource your design work to that place with the unpronounceable name but they have a deadly logo…
Too often we focus on moving the company forward without reassessing our own current methods of working. Is the way we work and think suitable to the growth and expansion that we dream of for our business. If workflows aren’t revisited and put under the microscope, any problems that arise are automatically attributed to a person, instead of a process. This blame breeds distrust and stress within a team because for some reason we have grown more comfortable with questioning our colleagues instead of our systems. When personalities are involved things get messy, nobody is able to keep a clear cut objective and focus on the problem. Once a person has been accused as being the epicentre of the problem it is difficult to reverse the thinking and focus on an achievable solution. In addition if the solution isn’t found within the work process it remains undetected and manifests into a bigger problem in the future. This cancerous quality has proven itself again and again, by not fixing the problem within the process you are essentially covering up a snare which lies hidden, waiting for somebody else in the future to step on it.
The next time you make a decision that will have an affect on the way you do business, reflect upon the processes that have led you this stage. Are these processes rock steady and scalable for the future, are they all encompassing, catering for all eventualities within sales, operations, finance etc. If you recruit more staff can they understand the origin, process and conclusion of each workflow? Are you building a business model that can match your vision?
If you can’t answer yes to all these questions, pick up a cricket bat and step out onto the verandah.