Simplicity

This was something I learned years back when I needed to write a U.S.D.A. compliance program when the inspection service changed all their procedures and instituted a new program based on NASA protocols and standards called HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points),

I was one of the first in Boston and subsequently in the country to formulate one. I was in a small group with a few others where we were being instructed on the forthcoming protocols and more that needed to be implemented while both engineering and documenting those very operating procedures.

When it came time for the review and approval process of my submission the board of inspectors were dumbfounded on how slim my report and manual was as opposed to the others. At first blush you could see in their faces where they felt there was going to be an almost across the board rebuttal and refusal to approve, for mine seemingly didn’t stack up as high the others did. (pun intended)

The reason? They all thought (“all” being my fellow peers) and were of the same mindset: If it didn’t sound, look and read like some college chemistry text-book, it must not be thorough. Hence, some need for at the very least the appearance of more data as some precursor of a more thorough plan.

In the end the problem wasn’t with mine, the issue for many as it turned was for the others. It turned out they put so much jargon and other meaningless minutia; the inspectors themselves had a hard time comprehending. And many were sent back for multiple revisions just on that basis alone.

Mine? Not only did it pass on its first review, I was asked (which I agreed) If it could be used as an example (with the necessary proprietary redaction’s) for the many hundreds if not thousands of others that would follow.

Again, this was now legally required documentation on how all would formulate and structure their manufacturing facilities and processes. I guess they felt they wanted to nip in the bud as soon as possible so that the others to follow weren’t submitting reams of unnecessary paperwork just for the sake of it. (after all – they were the ones that had to read it!)

This was not some small procedural innocuous document. One wrong line item, or one left out, or not followed procedure, and the ramifications could be devastating.

If you think I’m using hyperbole, failure to implement and follow these procedures put forward to the letter (some by the very companies themselves) has accounted for some of the largest food recalls in history. Some over hundreds of millions of dollars leaving a company near bankrupt and needing to be sold. (Remember Sara Lee Corp just as one example?)

We often times try to make the simple complicated. So much so that the underlying message of helping a client, or making a sale, or offering a new product to enhance profits  ___________(fill in the blank) is lost in translation.

If you can help a client to save millions of dollars by doing something as simple as changing a $10.00 item that would take them no more than an hour to do. And, you could make that recommendation in 10 minutes. That is worth far more in both value and your rate of billing than someone or some firm coming to the same conclusion; with 3 ring binders piled 10′ tall, days or weeks of near endless meetings filled with endless PowerPoint™ and more.

Get into the habit of arguing then charging for simplicity and quickness to the resolution of a clients requests while becoming fearless in billing accordingly based on the value they received from your insight and recommendations: Not from the feelings or need to justify endless meetings, documentation, and more that has nothing to do with fixing the actual issue. This is nothing more than a ruse created so one could feel comfortable billing a certain dollar amount.

Argue your value to the resolution of the clients issue rather than building the case why you are entitled to a dollar figure based on “busy work.”

In today’s complex world, it’s really no different from yesterdays: Simplicity is worth far more than complexity.

Just be brave and willing to charge accordingly, and you’ll become even more effective than your competition.

It’s that simple.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr