Processes and Activities Part II

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In my previous post, I talked to you about Processes and Activities. I explained that focusing on activities was inefficient and that we should instead set out to change the processes, or programs that define our operations.

Willam Edwards Deming, a really cool Quality guru came up with a simple method to process improvement. The PDCA cycle.

Basically, Mr. Deming stated that we can look at every process (remember what I told you about processes as plans?) and make or improve that plan. Then, go Nike and just do it, but check everything about it (measure it, quantify it), and finally, act. Make changes to improve that process, once you have made these changes, go back to revise your plan, and repeat the cycle.

Another way to approach process improvement, is by focusing on the “in-between” times. The idle times are the best! Find a bottleneck in the process. When we do laundry, the dryer is the bottleneck. It takes too long! So sorting, washing, and folding are activities that have idle time. Two loads can wash in the time one load dries. This is efficient!

In the time it takes for the coffee to brew every morning (if your coffeemaker is as old as mine, this point is significantly more relevant), this is your bottleneck, other activities can be combined in their idle times!

In the office, the bottlenecks are not too obvious, but they do exist. The time it takes your computer to boot up, the time you spend on hold with a supplier or customer, the time you are spending on walking across campus to another location etc. These are all bottlenecks that allow you the gift of idle time.

Now, this is not a go-nuts and never take a break type of post, this is actually the opposite! I want you to free more time by compressing your activities in blocks as often as possible. I want you to defragment your days (if you are a geek you will understand).

What happens when you do these two things? Yes, there were two, the PDCA was the first one! When you improve your process, and you optimize your idle time by finding your bottlenecks, you will have more time to write a blog, photoshop a landscape, write a poem, play with your kids, catch up with your friends or simply relax. Life is less complicated that way.

If you love blogging, if you love writing, photography, poetry, music, reading, or if you love spending time with your children, process thinking can be a good tool for you.

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