What's Driving You Crazy
There is no clear point person to assist with simplification and subtraction efforts and instead you feel lost and undirected.
Leaders don’t have to do the subtraction alone. They can appoint talented people and give them power and resources to lead the charge against unnecessary mechanisms and protocols. Smart leaders amplify the influence of those in their organization taking charge on simplification efforts by inviting them to key meetings, and providing support to them the best they can.
Case study featuring Roles
The “Czar of Bad Systems” Role
In 2015, Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes created the “Czar of Bad Systems” role in his fast-growing 1000-person social media company. This was prompted when Director of Technology Noel Pullen tried to send a customer a $15 T-shirt with the company logo, so many approvals were required that Noel figured out that it cost $200 to send it. So Noel decided to fix that shit. He hounded people in finance and marketing to scrap their approval process and simply trust employees to send company T-shirts as they saw fit. As Ryan wrote, ” Worst-case scenario? A few extra Hootsuite T-shirts find their way into the world.”Ryan liked what Noel accomplished with those T-shirts so much that he appointed Noel the unofficial role of “Czar of Bad Systems.” Ryan told Hootsuite employees that, when they struggled with a broken process they or their managers couldn’t repair, Noel was the go-to person to help them work across people and departments. Noel created a simple sludge audit, an internal “Bad Systems @ Hootsuite” group to keep track of needless complexities, bad policies, bottlenecks, and “irrational fears of worst-case scenarios.” Ryan explained, “we triage efforts based on a rudimentary points system: The number of people impacted by a bad process is weighed against the estimated time needed to fix it.” Noel’s conversations, suggestions, and–sometimes– not so subtle pressure helped Hootsuite dampen friction problems that wasted time and money and left people cursing in places like finance, customer support, marketing, and many other places.
How to use Roles
Roles should be used in tandem with other subtraction tools like audits. Specific simplification and subtraction roles like the “czar of bad systems” should be created in response to specific addition sickness that has been identified. These roles can be additional responsibilities of existing positions or they can take the form of a completely new job and maybe even a new hire!