The Business-Technology Weave

Mar 28 2013   12:04PM GMT

Zeroing and Managing Burdens the Right Way

David Scott David Scott Profile: David Scott

In picking up from a couple articles ago, recognize that burdens have sponsors too:  When seeking to reduce burdens, based on the assumption that they are unnecessary or inflated, we may run into a familiar problem.  Someone sponsored the burden.  Someone has a vested interest in this burden, and won’t appreciate it being exposed as a “time waster,” or as something poorly sized or fitted – whether it’s a business process, reports-set, some oversight endeavor, etc.  This is why it is important to make an objective case for reduction or elimination of the burden, and to show the benefits to be had.  At the same time, the organization must ensure there is no liability in reducing or closing the burden.  Remember the rules of valid, justified, criticism when tackling burdens that are being improperly managed and sponsored (scroll through past articles for that).

Burdens can be Born of Larger, Natural, Biases:  We’ve been making a sale here – a twin track to performing (general) work more efficiently, is to eliminate certain work entirely.  This is a tricky affair, for it goes against a natural grain.  Most of us have an upbringing that includes a heavy indoctrination regarding hard work.  Work in general is presented as laudable and necessary: the key to “getting ahead.”  And it is.  Work builds character.

Therefore, it too often follows that a reduction of work, an elimination of work, or some combining of work for reduced effort, gets automatically labeled as a “short cut” that imperils quality.  It’s a “shirk” of responsibility; or a flat “get out of work” scheme.  Any or all of these things can be true – in the correct context.  However, we oftentimes misapply these general feelings about work.  Governance, managers, and individuals have a natural bias toward believing specific work necessary simply on the basis that if we’re doing it, there must be a good reason for us doing it.  At the very least, doing it will build and support character.  Don’t let this bias influence an objective examination of work’s actual contribution to productivity, efficiency, security, and desired organizational results.

Burdens as Sustained by Inertia:  There too is the inertia that is imposed by fear, ignorance, or just an unwillingness to examine a new way of doing something – again, all that stuff we’ve been discussing.  Fear of change, too.  It’s important for the organization to take an ongoing objective look at the expending of various efforts – where effort is being applied, to what end, and the usability of that “end.”  Often times we find that were producing very little of value for our efforts.

Beware the “Trendy:”  Gone down a path because it’s popular?  Trendy?  “Everyone’s doing it” because it’s the latest buzz?  There are all sorts of panaceas that look good to people – particularly to managers who don’t do the actual work in implementing the “panacea;” the work in maintaining them, and the actual work in attempting the payoff.  Those who do do the work, however, frequently see through these endeavors for what they are:  resource hogs that deliver little return on the efforts.

None of this is a bash on managers, or those in the trenches who may be reticent to expose unnecessary work or procedure:  we’re all one and the same, as pulling in the same direction for positive business.  In other words, we all have to look at ourselves and what we’re doing.

NP:  CCR – Keep on Chooglin’    – sounds like good advice.

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