Continual Service Improvement Initiatives - Why I try to ‘under-complicate’

Over the years I have been fortunate enough to learn from a whole host of really good mentors but I have found that I have also learned just as much, if not more, from watching epic fails. One of these lessons is the ability for people to understand what you have helped them to achieve.

I was working on a project at one point where the PM and I were reviewing some documentation which was a result of some training. While going through it there were some ambiguities which I had seen and decided to ask the PM about.

“Don’t worry too much about that, the business owner didn’t seem to care too much about it and frankly in the scheme of things it might have impacted the timeline slightly”. He added “worst case scenario they bring me back for another 3 to 6 month engagement to ‘fix things’” he smiled when he used his hands to make exaggerated quotation marks. What I didn’t know then was that 3 months later he was back to do exactly what he said would happen.

Interested if this was planned or not I half-jokingly asked him about it. He went on to tell me that someday I would understand that clients don’t always get what they need in the time allotted and something needs to give in an effort for them to get going. He told me “you need to over simplify it for them so that they can get the ball rolling and then come back to help them out when they need it again.”

After this discussion I started to think that not everyone does this, so I went and asked a trusted advisor of sorts and he said after some experience you understand at the beginning what manageable chunks your clients can consume and build work components around that. He said “Making things simple, even if they seem smaller, will allow them to understand how to make whatever it is work, but start to see areas for improvement on their own.” He says building this relationship has gotten him repeats on work over the other model as the clients see him (as I do) as a trusted advisor. I replied, “It sounds as though you ‘under-complicate’” and to this he gave a crooked smile.

“You mean over simplify?” He enquired

“No, I think what you are saying is that we want to meet some level of objective but remove what makes this complicated for people to understand.” I went on to explain that it may not be that simple of an objective to reach so we may be stripping out parts that make it work rather than stripping out components which are making the transition complicated.

He thought on that for a second and nodded in agreement even if the grammar was flawed.

Think about your own initiative which is currently underway for your organization. What is making it complicated for you to reach your goals, and what can be done to break down those barriers to reach them? Under-complicate things wherever you can to achieve long lasting service improvements.

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