We Make It Harder: Your Company’s New Motto

Everyone says it, regardless of the industry, “we make things harder then they have to be.” In the automotive industry we feel like the process should be simple: buy cars, get customers, sell cars. In the restaurant business we map out the process: buy food, prepare food, get customers, sell food. Every industry has basic goals that can be boiled down to simple statements. So why do we produce so many documents and flowcharts, why do we write so many mission statements and revised organizational plans? The answer is as simple as business should be: people are involved.

I visited a restaurant last weekend, the name of which includes the word wings, as in chicken wings. I was there for that reason, it was time to enjoy wings. Guess what the wing restaurant had run out of? Yep, no wings to be had. I am quite sure that when the founder of this restaurant started out his plan was simple: buy wings, cook wings, get customers, sell wings. Do you think that he ever thought that anyone that bought one of his franchises would need to be told not to run out of wings? No, and in reality the franchisee probably understood the concept but the store manager or assistant manager did not. That may not be accurate, they may have understood the concept but because they were dealing with the minute by minute problems that come up when managing anything they just forgot or miscalculated; hard to know why but the lesson is there for us all.

Never make the process harder than it has to be. When the business begins to add employees and grows there have to be processes created to ensure the necessary functions are done. A process is a clearly defined, measurable, repeatable and written guide on how to do something. Once a process is in place it has to become ingrained into the culture of the organization and every employee involved must know, understand and follow the process.

When an owner or manager of a company says in exasperation, “Why do we make this so hard?” the answer is usually because someone does not know or is not following the process (assuming there is a process). What happens next may determine the fate of the business because if the exasperated owner or manager simply makes the statement and does not take the necessary steps to teach and enforce the process that manager or owner has failed. Every failure creates complications and soon creates a culture that may never be fixed.

Business may not be quite as simple as buy wings, cook wings, get customers, sell wings but with simple processes strictly enforced it is possible to have a business that feels as simple as it should.

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