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A Process of Hammering a Nail with a Jackhammer

This man is using a jackhammer to hammer a nail and it seems that the process is easier for him.

A decision-making process can become a massively complex and time-consuming process, making coming to a decision an exhausting process for all involved.

A general contractor had a matrix to help the decision-making process for pursuing new projects. This matrix was a complex spreadsheet requiring the lead to answer dozens of questions, including the investment of significant resources and energy to come to a decision.

During an evaluation, it was uncovered that roughly 80% of the business gained for the general contractor was the result of around 20% of the decision-making questions. To simplify the complexity, it was a matter of rearranging the questions. If a decision could not be made with the most critically prioritized 9 questions, then the company would continue with the next set of questions (and so on) until a decision was made.

When considering people and processes, sometimes it is a matter of simplifying the process to engage the people more effectively. Retaining an overly complex system is much like using a jackhammer to pound in a nail. It might get the job done but chances are good it will damage everything around it and make the job take longer than necessary.

Complexity can Overcomplicate a Process


This is a pareto process and it seems to be very complicated to understand at first glance. A person is holding a piece of chalk and writing the numbers on the blackboard.

In business, the Pareto principle states that 80% of outcomes result from 20% of all causes. In the above case, 80% of decisions made were the result of 20% of the questions asked. Prioritizing the 20% will speed up the process and produce better results.

This does not mean ignoring the remaining 80%, it simply means rearranging and simplifying complex processes to make them more efficient. Employees are more engaged when a process is more efficient.

People and Processes


people are gathering and talking about the processes that are applicable in order to have solutions for complex problems.


To fulfill a company’s purpose, there must be people and processes. This is a standard in any industry. Getting people to follow set processes can have a major impact on business. Adding new contingencies at every step of a process can create unnecessary complexity that people may not even need to complete most of the work.

People tend to not follow overly complex processes. This is natural for most people as humans tend to like easy-to-follow processes. Complexity in the process can become time-consuming, confusing, and can become cluttered. Often, complex processes may include unnecessary obsolete process steps.

Simplifying Complexity

In the beginning, the construction company from the example was evaluating the complex decision-making process in its entirety before any new project was taken on. Once EPS came in and simplified the process, decisions were being made faster.

The complexity was simplified to start with the showstopper questions. These were the questions that were required before pursuing any new project. If the decision couldn’t be made with the most critically prioritized questions, the lead would then move into the fast-track questions. The process was repeated with the capacity and best interest questions until a decision was made.


Why Use a Jackhammer When a Regular Hammer is More Effective?


The process that the woman in red is saying to the man is way more effective than others.


Simplifying a complex process into easier-to-manage process steps tends to create greater engagement with more effective results. When pounding in a nail, would you use a jackhammer? It might get the job done, but what if there’s an easier, more effective tool?

Why overcomplicate a process that could be streamlined to be more effective? Simplifying a complex process that prioritizes the most important steps first will create a greater outcome of results. The key is to start with that which covers the most outcomes first, then move on from there.

Let the experts help!

Effective Performance Strategies conducts workshops to help break down the complexity to improve operational effectiveness, enhance clarity, and increase engagement.

I love what Ryan Does. He helps bring complex processes from my brain and turns it into simple processes for my employees to be successful. – Lindsey

Interested in learning more? Check us out at Effective Performance Strategies or download your ebook at www.ryancweiss.com/ebook. Listen to the podcast on Spotify to align people & processes, and subscribe to our Newsletter to get updated every Tuesday morning!

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