Torbjorn Zetterlund

Mon 31 2021

#Throwback tales: Efficiency improvement to make in your business

by bernt & torsten

I have been around the software industry for over 40 years, and there are a few things I learnt and I dislike about companies are operates, I am not a fan of meetings, bureaucracy, hierarchy, or any system that obstructing immediate communication.

How can you get a lot done, with the time you have every day, as I wrote in an article about you have a problem if you are always busy

After all, we are all professionals in the business we work for or at, as professionals people should apply common sense to the task at hand. And if you don’t you should feel your days are counted, and start looking for something else. From my career here are some of the things that I do believe should change to make a business more productive.

Large meetings waste people’s time.

Having a lot of large meetings is a common trait of big companies and almost always gets worse over time. When I worked in large companies, this was a common practice to call everyone to meetings, a lot of times it was a waste of time, as I often sat idle and did not give me any value. Please get of all large meetings, unless you’re certain they are providing value to the whole audience, in which case keep them very short.

Infrequent meetings unless a matter is urgent

Frequently scheduled meetings, like project updates, one-on-one, weekly department meetings, should be removed from the calendar unless you are dealing with an extremely urgent matter. If everyone is on the same page, the time that is used for meetings will provide the time to get more done and resolve urgent matters. When urgent matters are resolved there will be a drop in frequent meetings.

Leave a meeting

In one company I worked for in Canada, the management had a policy that you could leave any meeting if your involvement was not needed or/and you are not adding value. At this Canadian company, I worked for I was told that we could walk out of any meeting if I felt the meeting was wasting my time, as it was rude to make someone stay in a meeting and waste that person’s time.

In an era when some employees complain about there are not enough resources for projects, the company should start with adding a policy to adopt a policy of leaving a meeting and monitor if that frees up time to do project work.

Avoid confusing jargon.

I had a VP of Development in the company I worked for, he was using acronyms or nonsense words for objects, software, or processes that he came up with, this created confusion and often require additional time in meetings to explain what he meant.

In general, anything that requires an explanation inhibits communication. You do not want people to have to memorize a glossary just to function at the company.

Make Hierarchy Work

Hierarchy structure in many businesses creates bureaucracy through policies that create a broken line of communication through the chain of command approach. Communication should travel via the shortest path necessary to get the job done, not through the chain of command.

Cross-departmental communication

One major source of issues between departments in a business is poor communication. This can be resolved by allowing for a free flow of information between all levels of the business. I saw it so many times when you need something from another department that you need to go through a manager or a manager of a manager, and this really slows down communication and getting things done in the most efficient way.

The best strategy to run a business is to allow employees to talk directly to other employees in other departments to make the right thing happen. Just because you are a VP or director, you do not need to make all the decisions, you just need to be brief of what has taken place.

Don’t waste time following silly policies

Policies that are created should follow the principle of common sense as your guide. If following a ‘company policy’ is obviously ridiculous in a particular situation, such that it would make for a great Dilbert cartoon, then the policy should change.

In conclusion

The most effective organizations are the one that has a fairly flat Hierarchy, common senses policies that employees follows and employees that are well trained in the role they are in within the organization.

Keep the language simple with no to little acronyms, and just enjoy the time that you have working for a business.