Here’s a useful exercise: pick a single piece of paper that comes across your desk. Or, an email that comes to you. Now, ask yourself,
- Who else did this go to before me? Who else will see it before it is done?
- Do all of them add value to it? Do I?
- If I go away for a month, will this still be waiting for me? Or, will someone else know what to do with it?
- Will I probably end up doing exactly what I’ve done with all of the other ones like this?
All of these questions funnel into one basic, fundamental question:
Did you design this process, or did it just come about by chance?
The most common areas where you can find processes that “just happened” is in your administrative office. Does payroll need to be done that way? How much work is going into timecards? What paper is being collected on a new hire? What does it take to resolve an issue with your medical insurance company?
Fair warning: you will get frustrated by this process. After all, there’s a reason you were ignoring these things all along! You have better things to do, and your office manager seems to be handling things fine, so why get involved?