‘Simple’ Tools of the Trade

Emma was excited! “Guess what I did this morning?” she enthused. I looked up from my work as she laid a pile of tax papers and other documents on my desk for me to sign. Still focused on my on-screen project and not really pumped about dealing with tax things, I responded, “What you did?? I haven’t a clue!”

“I did color calibrations on the new digital press!” Emma said cheerfully.

“Wow, who showed you how to do that?” I was puzzled. You see, Emma’s not really a technical person, and I felt sure we weren’t shorthanded out in production. So, why was someone teaching color calibration to our print company’s bookkeeper?

As I submitted to putting my “John Henry” on all her papers, Emma went on to tell me how my son Paul—who has been setting up our new digital press cost center—had written a step-by-step procedure for doing the color calibrations. She said Paul wanted to test his new procedure on her, and when she came to a step that stumped her, Paul would take it back, make some modifications, then hand it back to her to continue.

Emma said Paul had written it “so well,” she only had to stop a few times. She thought that was “pretty neat,” and I was really proud that my son has learned the art of writing time-and-money-saving procedures.

I’m sure you’ve purchased a widget or two in your time, only to become frustrated trying to decipher the written directions for how to use the darn thing that came with it!

The art of writing a good procedure, I’ve learned, is to make it simple enough so anyone can understand it and complete the task in the least amount of time. There are lots of people making lots of money writing manuals that, frankly, make no sense at all!

Philip Beyer, founder/president of Beyer Printing and Ebiz Products LLC in Nashville, TN, is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant, author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business," and an InterTech Award recipient for the design and development of System100™ business process management software. Philip speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses.
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  • Jim

    Having started at a new company in a new position, I can appreciate this article. I just wish this had been done for me!