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Aim for 98 percent perfection

Time and money wasted is time and money gone forever. And a waste of time and money means some other positive thing that could have happened, didn’t.

Apply a “Good Enough” rule to the Working Procedures in your workplace. Working Procedures are instructions that describe how the individual systems of the company or the job are to operate. For example, you should have a written procedure for every recurring action that takes place in your work environment, including how to answer the phone, make a deposit, or call for repair of the copier.

However, if you are like most people, you do not consciously consider the involvement of systems in your daily life. Therefore, you have not consciously thought in terms of adjusting systems in order to eliminate problems from occurring in the first place. For most people, an emerging mole is to be whacked, and burrowing inside the mole-hole for some serious mole extermination is not an option that’s considered. The recurring process is to wait for a mole, whack it, and then wait for the next mole to appear. Thus, endless mole-whacking.

Your job is to prevent fires, not fight them. Documentation gives permanence to the systems in your workplace. It has to happen. And your written procedures should be just “good enough” so the job gets done effectively, efficiently, and flawlessly each and every time.

A 100 percent perfect document that took forever to create carries an unintended imperfection: The extra time spent creating the masterpiece is lost forever, therefore the finished product carries an imbedded taint and – catch 22 – can never be called “perfect.”

So, make your procedures detailed but don’t make them too detailed. They should be good enough so the desired results are consistently produced, and so someone “off the street” can execute them, but no more. See it this way: In putting your procedures together quickly, you are reaching a kind of perfection – the perfection of a useful product created without waste.

Note: The book Work the System goes into specific detail on how to create and implement your workplace Written Procedures. See www.workthesystem.com to pick up your copy or receive a free download of Sam Carpenter’s “Six steps to working less and making more.”

About the Author: Sam Carpenter

In 1984, Sam founded Centratel, the number one commercial telephone answering service in the nation, located in Bend, Ore. With a background in engineering and publishing, he is a telephone answering service industry consultant, writer and speaker, and has served [...]