Simplicity in the workplace

Simplicity has become a new buzz word in the social arena. Lean implies cutting the fat and eliminating waste. Simplicity reflects designing processes from the ground up to be as simple as possible. Fortunately, there are already a number of workplace practices, software tools and network changes that exist to facilitate simplicity in the workplace.

* Reporting of problems and statuses should go to a single point of contact. Try to avoid demanding individuals submit multiple and possibly diverging status reports.
* Build standardized reports from existing manufacturing and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to eliminate the need for most individuals to generate status reports at all.
* Remove instant messaging from personal sources on internal email and notification systems. Fewer interruptions result in less stress and fewer distractions.
* Avoid overlap of responsibilities. If employees receive conflicting instructions for the same task, confusion and delays will result.
* Use group calendars to check for availability for work and meetings.
* Install a “meeting mode” option on instant messenger tools used in the work place to allow individuals to block information and action requests while they are in a meeting.
* Create a formal flow down process for information. Employees should know where to get information that they need.
* Simplicity in the workplace ideally includes only assigning tasks and projects to those most qualified to do so and without overloading anyone.
* Implement a clear set of priorities on projects and assignments. When multiple projects of similar priority occur, assign them to different individuals so that those employees can make that project their top priority.
* Use workflow management tools to identify key constraints of time, resources or labor before tangles or shortages occur.