Over the last 8 months, I’ve been steadily throwing things out. Words cannot express the joy from simply having less “stuff.” The process started with moving into a new condo in downtown Minneapolis where there simply isn’t the space for so much stuff. But, something deeper was at work. I had a strong desire to give up to go up. I started asking myself the hard questions, such as “Do you really need every single yearbook from kindergarten through your senior year of high school?” The answer was no (sorry mom for keeping those for me all those years). How about that endless pile of books I keep telling myself I might read someday? Nope – toss em! Systematically, my husband and I went through everything we owned and asked the tough questions. Truth be told, while exhausting, it was also exhilarating. The process of owning less stuff resulted in a sizable and unexpected reduction in stress. And who can’t use a little less stress in their lives? Are we minimalists now? Well, kinda, sorta, maybe…it’s a journey we remain on.
Coincidentally, I work on process optimization for many of my clients in consulting. It’s just a fancy term for re-engineering. Or in my simple language – figure out what pieces you really need and blow the rest of it up. Last year, I went to an interesting presentation on Customer Journey Mapping. Essentially, it was about thinking about the interactions with your company from the perspective of that customer. As I was reflecting on customer touch points and experiences with methods, I started thinking about process and minimalism.
We continue to talk about layering on more and more technologies to solve all our entrenched problems. Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Transformation, Robotic Process Automation, Fintech – it all feels like buzzword bingo sometimes. It’s just so noisy and hard to see what is imaginary and what is real. We are going to keep creating more and more data. Data upon data upon data – my Norwegian heritage just says “Uff-da!” I am also at a certain experience level that I believe the proof is in the pudding with these new technologies (aka let’s see it to believe it). And I need to see more pudding!
Am I saying these new technologies are without merit? Of course not. I do think that before we make the decision to buy one more technology that will magically solve our problems without us lifting a finger, we should seriously consider if we have effectively employed process minimalism. Are we using good solid data? Do we even know our processes? Or are we so busy optimizing our own internal areas that we just NIMBY the problem to somewhere else and congratulate ourselves that the problem is not in our yard? I realize that this is not the easy answer of just buying a new technology – it requires rolling up our sleeves, really stepping back, and looking at what we are doing. We must ask ourselves the difficult questions. But, when we answer these questions, we can effectively answer what technology we need to solve the problems. It is then that we have earned our pudding.