Wabi Sabi and Standard Operating Procedures


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Impermanence. Imperfection. Wabi Sabi claims this as the holistic view of life.

It’s these attributes that can lead us to discover the gem hidden in the unexpected. It’s receiving rejection and seeing the opportunity. It’s redefining expectations and giving the customer an experience of life itself. It’s big time because it’s simple, to the point, and adaptable. It’s perfectly natural. One assumes a continuum from the practise rather than an abrupt stop when something doesn’t go to plan.

Wabi Sabi is acknowledged in the creative aspect of a business but it is assumed that the administrative logistics require stale, robotic instructions. We assume there is no “essence” to these tasks and must distance ourselves by “having to get it over and done with.”

Business management is usually about technique but rarely about the attitude to the technique. The right attitude will express the intention of words (or graphics) into human experiences. And if we can’t get to the point in any of our processes, if they need so many layers of authority in order for something to come to action, then we are wasting time, money and the enthusiasm of the humans participating.

Each and every mode of operation should be analysed for it’s simplicity, as part of the business process. Business analysts should be evaluating the documents that form the logistics of a business as much as the numbers. If any step of the way adds no value, it should be discarded.

We also need to be aware of removing the personality from the business model. A lot of small businesses are created by the personalities of the partners and the few friends that from part of the initial operations. We get used to certain people doing certain things without really looking at whether the transaction could happen if the person was no longer there.

There is a creation and a maintenance aspect to the roles within a business. Some require a new definition and construction, especially if the business is growing, and others are laborious depending on the ability to automate them. It is assumed that the automatic type roles have no thinking involved with them. I bed to differ - the best improvement suggestions come from the people doing the role. No matter how large or small, each role should be in a constant process improvement process. If the market were to change in your industry and a new competitor entered with cleaner business practises and therefore more competitive pricing, you may yourself trying to catch up and spending loads of money on consultants.

The general motto should always be “remove the inessential”. This approach should be supported with an infrastructure that looks at suggestions from one area and how it works with the other areas - Does making change in one area cause more work in another? Does the change work with the company vision? Does it make the job more enjoyable?

How do you make a mundane role more enjoyable? We are humans that develop and grow. We are evolving whether you like it or not. To assume that a certain role (and it’s people) should remain stagnant is underestimating your human assets and not taking note of potential.

Everyone enjoys change - it’s the degree of change that can be debilitating to some. To remain stagnant invites unsavoury elements such as gossip and feudal wars. When your employees start down this track, they are being underutilised and trying to find ways to expend their energies. Gossip is simply a low level desire to want to be involved. Put that same person in a position of making changes and observe them shift their priorities.

Each role needs a change aspect and a maintenance aspect to it, the degree of which can vary by area. It works along the same ideas as the ideal state of the universe - it works in a state of expansion and contraction. So does the moon and our menstrual cycle. Stagnation is the birthplace of disease, both in the human system as the work system.

BUSINESSSandra RadjaComment