The key to simplification isn’t merely changing processes or rules—it happens by changing behaviors. Get everyone aligned on which behaviors to embrace and which to avoid with a simplification code of conduct.
- Did you know that employees in simplified work environments are 84% more likely to stay in their jobs? And that organizations which have simplified their processes financially outperform complicated companies by 433%? These are just two of many reasons to simplify things at work. But the key to making simplifications central to how everyone operates isn't by changing processes or rules, it's by changing behaviors. A proven way to change behaviors is with a simplification code of conduct.
This code communicates the exact behaviors an organization should embrace. Like saying no more often. It also identifies which behaviors people should avoid, such as not scheduling a meeting that should have been an email. To give you inspiration for your own code of conduct, here are two real world codes from companies that I've worked with. Both companies codes start with this promise. We commit to simplifying everything we do. To achieve this, each company establishes a set of employee behaviors.
The first example is a consumer packaging company. Which emphasizes simpler communication and using time more productively. I will eliminate any redundancies and unnecessary work and empower my team to do the same. I will not create false urgency. I will push back if I think something is unnecessary. I will use clear, jargon-free language when I communicate. I will keep my emails, documents, meetings and conversations short.
Now the next example is from a company in the financial industry, and it's code centers around transparency of information and avoiding time sucks. I will empower others to make decisions without me. I will be decisive and limit the amount of information I need to make a decision. I will make information available to others, unless it's illegal. I will say no whenever possible. And finally, I will not schedule a meeting that should have been an email.
And notice how both codes specify which behaviors people will do and won't do. And also note that they give people permission to change how they work so everyone can be more productive and make simplification a habit. To customize your own code of conduct, ask yourself and your team these three questions. Which behaviors create complexity in our company? Which behaviors would help make simplicity a reality? Which behaviors do people need permission to do more or less of? Let me give you a few protips for this exercise.
Avoid two-part sentences like if X then Y or I will do X unless Y. Choose three to five statements with a mix of habits you want more or less of. And share a draft with stakeholders or leaders and implement their feedback. Once the code is finalized, share it with your organization or team. Along with a short, personal message about why simplification is so essential to the health of the business. Encourage people to sign and display the code as a unifying reminder of everyone's longterm approach to daily work.
A simplification code of conduct helps everyone stay aligned, and prevents people from creating unnecessary work or wasting each other's time. It also empowers us to hold one another accountable if we're unnecessarily complicating something. When we make daily choices to prevent complexity, we help build a culture where simplification and productivity can thrive.
Lisa begins with a quick diagnostic exercise to identify areas of complexity in your workday. Next, she explains how to get simplification started, like auditing how your team spends time and pinpointing redundancies and time-wasting activities. Finally, Lisa provides actionable steps for simplifying everyday work like email, meetings, business processes, decision-making, and more.
- Identifying unnecessary complexity
- Auditing your workday
- Establishing productive habits
- Simplifying emails and meetings
- Streamlining decision-making