Reduce complexity – use pen and paper!

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There’s one huge disadvantage to our modern, tech-heavy workplace

No matter how on-message and well-trained we are, the process can often become far too complex, and actually slow workflow down rather than keeping everything moving efficiently.

This is particularly true of companies that see opportunities, take hold of them, then fail to adequately plan – or even simplify – the continued process that takes new ideas from launch to completion. They see the advantage they have over their competitors and grasp it with both hands, forgetting that not just their customers but their employees need attention too.

It can be very easy for companies to look inward, especially if much of the day to day is automated, taking place silently without actual human input. They lose sight of what matters, which is day to day interaction with the outside world, opinion, and changing tastes.

A good example of this is Nokia

– it’s not so very long ago since the brand name was synonymous with mobile phone technology. Everyone had a Nokia, and with good reason; they were reliable, they were innovative, and they had appeal. In 2006, Forbes magazine asked “can anyone catch the cell phone king?”; however, key staff left the company, citing the fact that there was no room for creativity any longer, and there were even working prototypes of the smartphone and tablet technology years before Apple got there.

In 2007, the iPhone launched, Nokia tanked, and the rest is history.

As with so many companies who feel that they’ve stolen a march on competitors, they lost sight of the simplicity they needed to survive – nobody wants to give the CEO that growth is suddenly moving with all the speed of poured concrete, so processes tangle further, and the brand dwindles away from being a promise to a name, and nothing else.

So what can you do to ensure you don’t become another Nokia?

The short answer is to keep it simple.

If you’re a list maker, or can’t remember something unless you write it down or take notes, you’ll know the power of letting pen and paper do most of the hard work of clarifying your thoughts for you. Flowcharts, ideas, and even ordinary to-do lists help you to avoid the cog-in-a-machine feel that faceless technology can lend to your company. Remember the days of meetings where flipcharts and a marker pen were instrumental in producing some of the most effective brainstorming sessions you and your colleagues ever had? It’s time to reintroduce the humble art of writing things down.

What makes pen and paper such an effective tool for taking business processes back to basics? There’s something in the basic art of physically holding that pen and putting your thoughts on paper, an act of creativity that can get lost when so many processes are automated. Your brain is forced to slow down as you make lists, draw charts, and plot graphs.

If you want to make sure your business truly continues to innovate, strip out the complexity and get writing.