The term "process improvement" sounds straightforward enough: Make processes better through some form of change. However, managers and employees often develop business processes without clear forethought or a real understanding of how each process fits into the company's larger organizational structure.
When this happens, chaos and confusion usually follow. And when a business finds itself in a state of chaos and confusion, they usually call Bastien Siebman.
Bastien is a full-time web developer, Asana Certified Pro, and CEO of Minimalist Work.
Bastien launched Minimalist Work to help companies simplify and streamline their internal processes. He also trains them on Asana, teaching them how to use it properly for an efficient workflow.
Recently, Bastien was a guest on my podcast, "In Systems We Trust." We talked about SOPs, his passion for Asana, and all things minimalist. Bastien is a wealth of knowledge, so I highly recommend you listen to his episode. In the meantime, I've compiled some key takeaways from our conversation below.
Don't Overcomplicate Things.
While Bastien loves Asana as much as I do, he recognizes one roadblock to collaborating between businesses: Asana does not have the capability to have a shared workspace between two separate accounts.
So when Bastien, who has his own Asana, begins working with a new client who's also using Asana, what do they do? Does the client join Bastien's workflow? Or does he come over to theirs?
Bastien recommends doing neither of these things. Until Asana offers companies the ability to create a third, shared workspace Bastien says people are better off using another app like Slack. That way, there are no issues with access and who has passwords for what. It's neutral playing ground.
How to avoid Work About Work
I asked Bastien the question I ask every guest on my podcast — how he helps his clients avoid work about work and how he avoids it himself.
In his case, Bastien admits he is better at helping clients than he is at helping himself. "I still do work about work because I have to manage my own Asana," he said, "clean up, and complete tasks. Keep things organized and prioritized."
However, he is trying to reduce this as much as possible! "For example, if I have a task I keep postponing every week, at some point, I'm just going to delete that task. Because I really don't want to do that."
Bastien's goal is to reduce the number of times he or his clients need to interact with a task. When there's a massive number of steps that all require an interaction, that takes a lot of mental energy.
Bastien saves his customers that mental energy by simplifying their workflows so that they are clear but have fewer steps involved.
A year or two ago, Asana launched Project Templates that their users could purchase. But by that time, Bastien had been creating templates of his own for clients for years.
Bastien uses the process of building these templates with a client to begin identifying gaps in their workflow.
"When you ask them to draw their timeline, they realize they have conflicts and discrepancies they could cut out," Bastien said.
"They realize that for several years, they've been battling with their internal workflows that didn't make sense. And then the CEO is baffled because he had no idea."
So Bastien creates simple, easy to follow templates that ensure everyone is on the same page. No more unnecessary steps, no more discrepancy.
What are business owners not considering when it comes to process planning?
This is another question I ask almost every person I have as a guest on the podcast. For Bastien, he would tell business owners to invite someone in from the outside.
"I think it's worth having someone from the outside come in and help you map your workflows and SOPs. Because you don't realize how messy they are until someone else puts your nose in it."
His other piece of advice is to simplify as much as possible. Do you really need three approvals before this blog post can be published? Or will it be perfectly fine with two, or even one? The more complicated things are, the more chance things will get lost, and the work quality will suffer.
Well-designed business processes set up your teams on the path to success. Everyone is clear on their roles and responsibilities and work with a clear vision towards the end goal.
I really enjoyed my conversation with Bastien. I rarely meet someone who's as passionate about Asana as I am!
While there are many helpful pieces of advice in this article, I strongly recommend you listen to Bastien's full episode of "In Systems We Trust" for a deep dive into his knowledge and experience. While you’re there, hit subscribe so that you’ll automatically get great advice, recommendations, and tips delivered directly to your podcast platform of choice.
If you enjoyed the episode or have any questions about how your company can improve its workflows and processes, reach out to the Ditto team today!