A lesson in efficiency and embracing processes, not despising their restrictions

I saw this image on the interwebz (UniLad to be precise) and instantly saw an opportunity to use it completely not what it was intended for to help me explain a point in the most obvious way possible, and i like that.

Why is this kid going far?

Efficiency. Not only that, they learnt it over time from their own mistakes, evolved their method, and eventually perfected it. Well, perfected as much as a child can with their limited cognitive ability.

I would happily give this kid an interview at any company i was in a position to do that at in future. Not for a specific role, but just get them in and see if they'd fit within the company, because with the right guidance and direction, they can go far.

How does this related to my digital agency, or business?

Let me start from the top, and with something boring, processes.

Processes is what, at the root of everything, defines how you do business. It will define how your product is made, how it's brought into stock, how it's sold... you get the picture.

You do these processes every day, some without even realising and if you haven't documented it may be worth taking a step back and understanding them.

Understand processes, they are more important than you think

As a digital agency, you respond to many proposals every year, if you can define that process, define templates and how to expand/compact those templates in a way that doesn't lose the brand's consistency and still accurately reflects your organization's personality, then you can save money whilst also making your employees lives so, so much easier. If they are tasked with making up something new every time for tasks that really don't need a solid run of creativity, that will zap their creativity for when they do really need it.

Part of understanding processes is identifying blockers. If you are filling out a proposal, but the template needs a Creative Director to input some crayon related discussion, then that is a blocker. Identify the reasons why they aren't available, and find ways around it. Is there a default elevator pitch that can be entered first, does the creative require some key information to start their part efficiently rather than constantly asking you about the proposal to get to where they need to be, and ultimately help you. Help yourself, by helping others!

Why spending more early, can save in long run

The old saying, "buy cheap, buy twice" is pretty appropriate here. 

If something takes you 1 hour to do, and you do it 20 times over in the year. Think about spending 3 hours the first time, sure, 3 times the amount initially but when you work it out over those 20 times you still have to do the task, you only have to save 10 minutes per run, and you've saved almost an hour over the length of that process.

Looking at the table below, you can see that if you invest 6 hours at the start and you can halve your processes from then on, you're still saving yourself time and money over the entire life span of that process.

Process is ran Times to run process to learn and document Minutes per process Total Hours to undertake all processes
20   60 1200 20
20 2 50 1100 18.3
20 6 30 660 13

Don't make your defined process restrict creativity, let it inspire

Your process should be a framework for making something great. Much the same as when you build a house, you will erect scaffolding to help you build it. The scaffolding can contain anything. A castle, a shed, a home, and at the end of it all, is a process which defines how the scaffolding is erected, but not what it explicitly contains. Sure, it's based on a plan of the house, but it all bounces of each other.

If you have a process for writing a proposal, always allow for areas for creativity. Allow for contributors to add their own mark and create something beautiful. If you have a section that talks about how the your Agile process work, allow them to feed back into the template, allow them to grow the section based on pre-defined, acceptable variables of expansion. If the client requests to only have 3 standups a week, the framework should allow that to be changed in a way that flows with the rest of the document. Writing the document with these variables in mind from the start is the best way to actually make this happen in the real world.

Evolve your learning, learn from mistakes, learn from success

Don't be afraid to evolve, don't be afraid to get it a little bit wrong.

Learn what's going awesome, keep it, improve. Learn what's awful, fix it, get rid, make it work for you.

Be efficient, don't be boring.

Peace out!