go minimalist this spring


Declutter Your Process and Distill Your Own Best Practices

The Minimalist Movement isn’t just for artists and musicians. The practice of focusing on what’s most essential and eliminating what isn’t can clear a path to unprecedented success for your business or team. In business, less can certainly be more–more efficient, more profitable, and more pleasant. It may just take the simple act of Spring-cleaning your routine to realize your opportunities for improvement and shine up your results.

You can simplify any area of business, from accounting to human resources to marketing to the mailroom. All facets of how you operate your business can most likely be reviewed and refreshed in some way. Before you get started, it’s important to first define the common goals of your decluttering efforts across the board. For example, Toyota–known for its operational excellence–seeks to continually remove the following non-value-adding wastes from all of its processes: overproduction, waiting, unnecessary transport, overprocessing, excess inventory, defects, and unused employee creativity. Some, none, or all of these parameters may be applicable to your business, but your end goal should be the same–define and streamline the right process to achieve the right result.

If overhauling the whole sum of your operations seems too daunting, first focus on one of the following areas and see what kind of impact a minimalist approach yields. Then continue to apply what you have learned in other areas.

Suppliers: Think quality, not quantity. As quoted in entrepreneur.com’s article 25 Ways to Simplify Your Business, John DuBiel of Supply Chain Edge said “Strong partnerships with suppliers and service providers [are] critical… Keep relationships strong by leveraging your buying power with as few service providers as possible.” Loyal vendor relationships can save both time and money. By solidifying relationships with a select few vendors that can deliver what you need, when you need it, you should be able to experience cost advantages and priority service as well as save time on unnecessary RFP management and correspondence with a larger pool of vendors.

Scheduling: Align the right people with the right tasks, and just the right amount of time. Time management presents huge opportunities for improved efficiencies on personal and systemic levels. On a team level, set precedents regarding who attends meetings, and when face-to-face meetings are best versus when email updates are more productive. More doing and less talking should be a guiding principle. For individual schedules, question whether tasks can be left undone or done by someone else. Encourage team members to create less volume, to have more time to create the best product. Pacing techniques should also be used. Knowing when to speed up, slow down, or stop an activity altogether can significantly improve your team’s best practices. Finally, scheduling just the right amount of time per task is key. Allowing too little time can strain budgets and risk errors or quality of work. Allowing for too much time can also backfire, as it can lead to overproduction, burnout, or a deficit of time in a later stage of development, production, or implementation.

Technology: Is your current lineup a beauty or a beast? From social media to software applications, ask yourself and your team about what’s working and what’s hurting. Eliminating the maintenance of underperforming social network accounts or streamlining digital storage practices can, for example, be game-changers for internal resource management. In the ever-evolving digital arena, social media and technology choices should be reviewed annually at a minimum.

Springtime is a great time to clear the cobwebs on less-than-optimal processes, but maintenance throughout the year is highly recommended. What worked a month ago may need refinement tomorrow. Stay vigilant with your minimalist approach to avoid recurring clutter.