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Simplify For Better Understanding August 22, 2016

Posted by Tim Rodgers in Uncategorized.

Business decisions and strategic plans depend on people for implementation, but leaders and managers are often frustrated and disappointed by what people actually do, which can delay implementation or make strategies less effective.

One of the companies that I worked for did a significant amount of manufacturing at a wholly-owned factory in Shenzhen, China. Quality was a persistent problem from this operation. There were a lot of incidents of missing or incorrectly-assembled parts, and the local production managers were unsuccessful in their efforts to improve the situation. I flew over to have a closer look.

It turned out that all of the assembly work instructions were written in English. I asked the head of the operation why the work instructions weren’t written in Chinese instead of English. He was indignant: “We only hire people who can speak English fluently.” I told him that was fine, and if he wanted to make that requirement I didn’t really care, but I insisted that the work instructions be written in Chinese, or, if he thought it was necessary, in both languages. Shortly after that we starting seeing a significant improvement in quality.

Why make it hard for our teams to understand what we want? If employees seem confused and unfocused it’s possible that they’ve been bombarded with information, sometimes mixed messages that represent competing priorities. Business leaders have a responsibility to communicate clearly, consistently, and simply. My starting point at work is that everyone is trying to do the best work they can. Let’s not make it difficult for them to understand what’s important.





1. Dave B - August 22, 2016

Tim, most of my career as both an engineer and a manager was spent simplifying instructions and processes. Our benefactors Bill & Dave really had it figured out. Set clear objectives, provide basic guidelines, and provide clear financial expectations. They too, believed that everyone wanted to do a good job and then they left them to carry it out. Yes, there were ramifications if one constantly failed to deliver, but there were equally great rewards when you delivered on the basic three elements stated above. What I don’t understand in today’s environment is why or how companies have lost that basic understanding.

Tim Rodgers - August 22, 2016

Dave, thanks so much for your insights.

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