When I was young my parents allowed me to watch 20 minutes of PBS a day. But, of course, I was not to be stopped and I remember sneaking into their room to watch TV, sitting right next to the screen so that I could turn the machine off the moment I heard them coming home. Most of that time was more or less wasted but there is one moment from one TV show that keeps coming to mind. It was in an episode of “Duck Tales,” where we are shown the beginning of Scrooge McDuck. He gets his first job as a shoe shine, works his but off, for which he only gets one dime. He is disheartened, angry and exhausted, he seems ready to give up when a mentor gives him the secret to his eventual wealth… “work smarter, not harder.” And then we see him riding a bicycle attached to a belt with multiple brushes so he can shine ten shoes at the same time.
This lesson of finding new, easier, more efficient ways to perform the same task has stuck with me to this day. I find a thrill in reviewing the work flow of any given group and looking to see if there are superfluous steps, ways to streamline the work to make it both faster and easier, without compromising the quality.
The trick to making a process better is that you have to be able to investigate the process, tweak the process and then review what effect those changes had on the process. What I am saying is that in order to make your running better, you have to run.
There are two mistakes that are easy to make
Wanting to get it perfect before you start and so you never (really) start.
Getting complacent and doing just what you have always done.