Processes should help you get things done in a structured manner. They are there to help you, not the other way around. At first, you’ll be adding lots of steps to your process to make sure you won’t forget stuff.
Over time, things change. Processes tend to be sticky, because everyone gets used to it. They can feel like an old pair of shoes, they fit perfectly and it feels so good to snug into them. Processes turn into habits, which make them hard to change. However, this accumulated steps drag you down, often without knowing.
One of the core principles of scrum is “eliminate waste”. A powerful concept, because it forces you to rethink whatever you are doing and try to get rid of the things that are slowing you down. The good (and bad) news is that any process has waste, so there is always something that can be radically improved.
- Measure. It all starts by getting data. The day we moved to a new office, I tracked how long it would take me to get from the train to our office. This is your baseline.
- Think. This is the part where it is more than okay to spend some time thinking how your process could be improved. Which parts of the process could be taken away completely? Do I need to make a little investment in order to save time in the end? Are there steps that could be combined in some kind of smart way?
- Experiment. One of the final hurdles on my way from the station to our office is a revolving door. For someone that walks fast, this thing is really frustrating because I have to slow down when I definitely don’t want to. Next to it there’s an emergency door. Long story short: I didn’t know if some kind of an alarm would go off, but the time saved was more than worth it (it doesn’t) so I just tried. Just take away things to see if someone notices, quality drops or something else happens.
All funny examples aside, get into this waste eliminating mode as often as you can. Make is a way of life to take out what is dragging you down and distracting you.