How often are we faced with a system, process or application that leaves you frustrated and confused? Based on my own experiences this week, and that of many of my friends (thanks social media), it occurs pretty frequently. Feeling inspired by all this disfunction leaves me thinking about how we can quickly assess whether we have made it overly complex.
- It’s difficult to maintain – A well designed process or system is one that is easy to understand it’s purpose, and intuitive enough (or simply documented enough) for someone to maintain it. Our environments are not stagnant so we can expect our processes or systems to be.
- Users complain about it (or just don’t use it) – Processes and systems are designed to solve a business problem. If we make them so complicated and cumbersome users won’t use it, and if there is no other choice, will complain relentlessly about doing so. If the system or process requires more people to enforce it, then it’s time to take another look.
- It’s not delivering the quantifiable measure of success you thought – Again, you implemented this to solve a business problem. Hopefully, you defined a measure of success. If you are only seeing marginal improvement, or even a decline in performance against the business problem, this is highly indicative of having over-thought your solution. It’s may be time to start over.
I don’t think overly complicated systems or processes come from a malicious place, however they can be detrimental to the overall success. Be conscious of these warning signs and be aggressive if fixing these. It will make for a better overall user experience improving morale and positively impacting the bottom line.
To read more on this topic, see these blog posts by Gregory C. Smith, Code Simplicity, and David Meehan.
There are an abundance of articles on procrastination – ways to avoid it, reasons why it exists, etc. I wasn’t able to find many resources on how procrastination negatively impacts other people. When it comes to procrastination, It’s really not all about you! Your procrastination is impacting everyone you work and/or interact with.
As a project manager, this comes up quite a bit. The project manager diligently breaks down the work, assigns the baseline schedule and owns overall responsibility of making sure the work gets done. We rely on the project team to fulfill their responsibilities and ensure the work gets completed. If a single project team member procrastinates on any single task, it will have a trickle down effect on all other tasks that need to be completed. Procrastination by definition is the avoidance of doing tasks that need to be done. This does not include the scenarios where work goes more slowly as a result of a problem or new information. This is truly the work that a resource puts off because he/she just doesn’t want to do it.
While project managers know that this is a common enough occurrence, I think it’s human nature to assume your procrastination isn’t hurting anyone other than yourself. But in reality, it will impact anyone directly linked to you. A couple of days ago I got into an argument with my daughter for this exact topic. Her high school requires that each student fulfill 15 hours of community service during the course of the school year. While 15 hours over 10 months doesn’t seem that cumbersome, my daughter plays ice hockey September-March. She is on the ice 6 days a week and has to fit homework and other responsibilities on top of that.
Now that we are winding down hockey season, I asked her to conduct some research and identify opportunities she could do over spring break. She promptly told me she “had it covered’ and would fulfill the hours, but when I pushed her for more details, she had nothing to offer. She assumed that I was pushing her because I didn’t trust her. That really had nothing to do with it. In prior years, we had to scramble to get everything done in time, rushing around in the last minute. Given my other projects and responsibilities, I need her to plan more effectively. I got quite frustrated with her as there is no real effort to do the research (the school provides a list of pre-approved organizations and activities). In this case, her procrastination doesn’t just have the potential for disrupting her grade, it will most likely disrupt my schedule as we have to cram 15 hours over the next month (and she doesn’t drive yet).
As you push off until later the thing you need to do today, please consider the impact you will have on those around to you.