I smile nearly every time I let my dog out in the backyard to do her business. You’d think it’s some major, life-changing, important decision about where she squats. No matter how many times a day she needs to do it, each time requires careful wandering around the yard, pausing like she is about to start, then changing her mind, going a few feet in a different direction, sniffing, winding around like she’s following some invisible maze and then suddenly all is right and she pauses for the few seconds needed. I shake my head and think “Was all that necessary?”
I can’t tell you how many times in business I wonder the same thing as I see people sweat and toil over what appear to me to be quite simple, matter-of-fact decisions that really don’t warrant a lot of time and energy. Some examples include:
- Getting the wording just right in a policy that very few will actually read, and spending countless hours in meetings filled with a dozen people or more to do it;
- Fretting over whether or not to do something because someone somewhere might somehow take offense at something stated or implied;
- Requiring layers of management approval for small expenditures or decisions instead of empowering people closest to the action and front lines to make quick decisions they deem best.
Businesses, individuals and families have enough big decisions on their plate without wasting time unnecessarily belaboring matters of lesser importance. Those who insist on perfection and extreme thoroughness in all things need to realize that perfection may be found in simplicity and efficiency rather than complexity. They perhaps need to calculate once just for fun the ROI of spending tons of time on something versus allowing a simpler, quicker process to prevail. They may just find that their complexity is costing their business time, dollars, goodwill, customers and/or standing in the industry.
Sometimes I want to say to these corporate bottlenecks what I want to say to my dog as she prances around the yard looking for that magical place to pee – “either piss or get off the pot.”
Leap year lesson #173 is Don’t over think small decisions.