Before You Automate, Simplify Your Processes

Once you’ve articulated the essential processes for your business, assume that your top performers will be implementing them. Technology investments are often resource intensive, so why build them around your lowest-performing percentile? Use your top performers to define the best practices and make them standard.

Without identifiable standards, you risk spending more on technology/ies than needed. The goal of standardization is to increase the efficiency of producing the best possible outcome and facilitate collaboration. Blindly applying patchwork of technology is not going to help you reach that goal.

Once you have a simplified and standardized process, apply your technology and automate. Ultimately, this can be the most challenging (or daunting) stage for an organization, because it often results in lost jobs or workforce reductions. Given the degree to which labor shortages are expected to constrain growth, being able to do more work with fewer people is becoming necessary rather than discretionary. By automating routine tasks, organizations can nurture and develop their creative knowledge workers.

Viewed from this perspective, automation augments rather than annihilates. It can expand skill sets, enhance business processes, and amplify business success. Automation can provide an opportunity for workers, teams—even executives and entire companies—to skill up.

Companies that focus on growth in both personal and professional dimensions are poised to use automation in this way. Rather than automation, focus on augmentation. Ironically, that all starts with simplification.


Ray Attiyah is the founder of Definity Partners, a hands-on, business-training firm that integrates process redesign and leadership-behavior modeling. He developed the Run-Improve-Grow system to inspire the best leaders to reach for higher-hanging fruit. His newest book is Run Improve Grow: Your Roadmap from Firefighting to Bold Business Growth.