in 1992, a seminal article appeared in the Harvard Business Review. It was called "Staple yourself to an order". The article pointed out that the customer order management process in many companies was overly long and complicated and that led to customer dissatisfaction. Shapiro, Rangan and Sviokla, the authors, did not use statistical analysis and linear regression models to demonstrate what was wrong with the customer order business processes. They simply followed the order from desk to desk through the entire order process. They found that many processes had a significant amount of time that was not adding value to the process. For example, they found that a customer order that required 20 elapsed days for processing was only actually worked on for a total of 10 hours. There was a lot of non-value added time in the process.
Now, their point was to encourage businesses to improve the customer order process and make it more efficient, to remove time from the process that did not add value to the order. I think the same approach should work for any business process in any organization. Many organizations have formal or informal business processes for requesting information, creating a request for funds for a new project, purchasing a new piece of equipment or other needs. Some of these processes are established, and some must be created periodically since the business need waxes and wanes.
However, virtually any process gets clogged up and information eddys and time sinks are created. Anything that gets in the way of getting things done without adding value is a roadblock to success. What are your most important business processes, and do they operate with maximum efficiency?
Which of your most important processes are documented? Have you tuned those processes to be highly efficient? If a process is not helping you become more efficient and more productive, then it is standing in the way of your success.
Define your most important business processes, document them and ensure they are as efficient as possible, with as little time "waiting for approval" as possible. Staple yourself to a business process and find the inefficiencies in your business that hamper your productivity.