Why is it that the more complicated something is the better we think it will work? In our self-improvement obsessed world, most of us think that we need some innovative hack or super-complex process to transform what we are doing to start seeing results. We think that new solutions will all of a sudden launch us to success. Although, most of the time we’ve already moved on to the next idea before we gave the first idea a chance to work.
New ideas and new ways to approach things are good. Sometimes we get stuck and need something new to pull us out. But what if I told you that you don’t always need something new and exciting to drive improvement. What if I told you that using what you already have could have the same results?
According to James Clear, in his article “Do More of What Already Works” (https://betterhumans.coach.me/do-more-of-what-already-works-e4ea4ef65b25#.6trx69fb9), we waste the resources and ideas we already have at our fingertips because they don’t feel new and exciting. The problem, according to Clear, is that we tend to undervalue answers that we already know or have already discovered. We end up ignoring old solutions, even if they have proven to be best practices, because they feel like something we’ve already considered. Or, we end up ignoring them because they don’t seem to work anymore. When we analyze why the basic fundamentals aren’t working any more we often find its because steps get skipped. The more familiar you become with a process, the more likely you will skip steps in the process.
Clear demonstrates this idea of not skipping steps through a case study performed in 2004 at nine hospitals in Michigan. As a group, they implemented a new procedure that cut the infection rate of ICU patients by 66% within the first three months of implementation. Within 18 months, they had saved $75M in healthcare expenses and the lives of more than 1,500 people. On first glance, one might assume that these successes are due to some new, high-tech equipment or new facilities. Not even close! These successes were due to the implementation of a check list. Yep!
They found through observation that even though a particular procedure was done very frequently and was fairly basic in nature (meaning only 5 steps total to complete) that in more than a third of the patients, at least one step was skipped. So, by implementing a formal check-list that encouraged them to use the answers they already had on hand on a consistent basis, they saved over 1,500 lives. It wasn’t ground-breaking. It was the use of fundamentals.
What would happen if you got back to the fundamentals of your business? What if you went back to using some of the boring and mundane processes that may not be fun or innovative but you know deep down work? What if you started looking at monthly reports every month again? What if you started writing thank you notes again? What if you got out of the office to actually meet people again, instead of holing yourself up in your office trying to learn how to use a new relationship builder app?
As Clear writes, “Progress often hides behind boring solutions and underused insights. You don’t need more information. You don’t need better strategy. You just need to do more of what already works.”