While they get interchanged often, easy is not the same as simple and vice versa.
A process may be simple to comprehend in its execution but not easy to do. For example, write a blog post. Understanding the concept doesn’t help you when staring at a blank doc wondering what to say to your peeps today.
Similarly a task that you’ve done for years may be easy due to practice but is anything but simple. Sending out a newsletter in HTML format for example.
Let’s take the job of receptionist for any mid sized company. The task is simple: answer the phone when it rings and transfer the call to the correct employee. For the employee who has walked those halls for a decade and knows Mary in accounting from Mary in marketing, it’s simple. For the trainee wondering “which Jim works on that project?” it’s anything but.
Michael Garber teaches in the E-Myth that for any company to grow out of infancy, the owner and those who begin work before the sign is hung on the door need to document the process and encourage the evolution of each system.
Owners and managers must find a way to bridge that gap so that the learning curve is steeper.
For the receptionist that may mean a phone list with each employee named alphabetically by first name. Possibly by last name on another sheet and by department on even another sheet. What may seem silly at the creation of the company when the list has but two names, is now an important process to make a relatively simple task easier.
It takes a new hire a few minutes to become acquainted with employees across the company instead of months.
And while creating a system takes a simple task and also makes it easy, that doesn’t mean you’ll take all the guesswork out of work.
Yes, systems are created to demonstrate “how things are done around here” which makes work flow faster, employees transition smoother and allows the owner to refocus attention.
But a system cannot and should not address every contingency that may come up in the future.
Unless you want it to read like the Tax Code.
Instead give specific direction, outline principles and provide guidelines for exceptions.
Tim Feriss explained this best in the 4 Hour Work Week when he empowered his fulfillment team to make customer service decisions up to $200 without approval. Above $200 and they would present to Tim for approval.
The best employees are ones that understand direction and are able to discern missing links and proactively resolve questions.
The receptionist, for example, may be trying to connect a prospective client with the VP of financing with little luck. A good receptionist will check the company calendar to note if the VP is out for a conference or in a meeting. Finding nothing, the great receptionist will call an employee whose office is close to the VP to ascertain their location. Finally, a stellar receptionist will return to the caller, explain what steps have been taken and offer to take a message to deliver when the VP is located.
A poor receptionist may check the phone list, dial the extension and hang up when the VP does not answer.
An otherwise simple job can be made easier with a process to follow.
How about in your online business?
Do you have systems for your telesummits like “If the host drops the call, here’s how to keep callers on the line until the host reconnects.” How about systems for launches regarding your follow up campaign and tracking conversion?
The goal of your system should be to make each step easy to understand and the whole process simple to follow.
Tomorrow I’ll be showing you how to develop your first system and a great place to start.