The key to maintaining a simple process is to build it with longevity in mind. Simplicity is often a difficult goal to reach. As humans, we generally aim to keep things as simple as possible despite the tendency to make them more complicated simplestartllc than necessary. When presented with information, it is our nature to synthesize what is before us, understand the details and consider all options before doing even the smallest thing. Try as we might, our propensity for detail and thoroughness naturally moves us toward complicated processes. The effort required to protect simplicity is substantial and simple processes – those which can easily be remembered, understood, implemented and measured – will, over time become complicated.
A few years ago, I had the privilege of working directly with a highly skilled and technical team of software engineers. Our goal was to create a very simple process that we could use to govern all the work that we did together. It took months of meetings, proofs of concept and individual discussions to get the team to buy into the idea of simplicity. It took another few months for us to agree upon a simple process at a high level. After much work, we agreed that the simplest process for us was a three-step procedure in which work could be received, processed, and delivered. We described what was necessary to receive work in the first step, what was required in order to process the work and that which was needed to deliver the work upon completion.