“Yet do much less, so much less, Someone says,
… So much less!
Well less is more,… I am judged.”
It was the first time when I was introduced to the concept of “Less is More” by the poetry “Andrea del Sarto” of Robert Browning. I loved the concept and started to implement it in my personal life. I started to sell or give away all the gadgets I had bought in high hopes that was left aside on a corner at my house, restructured my “buying things” strategy and it really helped on my extravagance, reduced the weight I used to carry to everywhere in a belief that I would be needing each and every stuff like at least 2 books and a e-book reader, two earplugs and a headset, a tablet and a computer. And it also helped me to see how my business life is also full of useless “once promising” management tools, almost identical evaluation tools, a dozen KPIs, and many more energy drainers and time consumers. I decided to give it a try and see what people had already done until then. I had come across a lot of useful articles, inspired from many of them and finally formed my strategy.
Since my expertise is about the management of Health and Safety, focusing mainly on the culture transformation and raising awareness, we took a snapshot of what we were doing in order to manage Health and Safety. we set our course in a center to outer rim style and focused on the fundamentals. The main areas were the inclusion of the people, ownership of the leaders, ease of understanding when it comes to the reporting, standardization, and guidance of the shop floor.
The standardization had been started already and we were in the process of unifying all the health and safety tools used across our countries. It was a great opportunity to try and apply the new strategy I had embraced. With the acceptance of all the stakeholders, we did not only unified and centralized the tools, but also reduced the total number of tools, techniques, instructions, procedures by more than 60%. Even the language had become leaner than before, making it possible for everyone in the organization to read and understand the messages we were trying hard to give.
The ownership can be obtained with the help of a little competition. We decided to create a healthy and positive competition environment among the locations, departments, countries and regions. To achieve this, we again build our trust on the simplicity and being lean. We had at least 8 KPIs that we followed on a monthly basis through a dashboard system that had been designed by the finance department. No one was reading it in detail, and no one was asking any questions. It needed a new design, a new, fresher, leaner look with simplicity.
The design of the new dashboard started with gathering all KPIs under one big KPI, getting rid of the identical ones and adding some new proactive parameters, and finally making it more visual and simple by setting it as a percentage value and naming it as the maturity index. The new design brought in the competition automatically since now it was very clear and all locations, departments, countries and regions were able to see how well they perform, if their performance was ok for the company and in parallel with the industry and world standards. The competition triggered the involvement and ownership of the leaders and their involvement inspired the shop floor to contribute more by giving improvement ideas or reporting near-misses. With the contribution and inclusion, the system quickly transformed into and perceived as not yet another system coming from the outside and top, but as a system alive and being built every second by all and for all. Even at the implementation stage we, the H&S department, found ourselves watching an autonomous system mature in time and adapt rather than working to convince people to accept the system and keep it alive.
Of course, there are a lot of hard works behind what we have accomplished so far. It is not a magical wand we have and just keeping it, simple and inventory cleaning is not the only reasons behind the positive results we face today as an organization. Yet when I look back, I am feeling comfortable and confident to say that “Less is More” approach is the first and most critical step of the way that carried us so far and continue to carry on. We have the tendency to try out new things, create alternative ways, choose comprehensive tools, methods to improve our performance but the more we look outside searching new things the more we are separated from the roots and core values that we have built our systems in the first place. I, for my part, learned that sometimes, it is good to turn back to the basics, evaluate and get rid of the unnecessary things, simplify it to have more stability and endurance at the foundation and use that power which has been there all along.