Enter three-wise men: Steve Jobs, Noam Chomsky and Buddha. The work of all three sits on top of a common denominator: Minimalism. Steve Jobs and Apple launched a sleek, clean, simple design in the iPod, iPhone and iPad, propelling Apple to become the world’s largest capitalized public corporation. The father of modern linguistics Noam Chomsky begot the Minimalist Program, an innovative research tool that posits the human language organ is an optimal system, a system which should have the least number of grammatical redundancies and overlaps. That is, the language organ should be minimal; Chomsky has arguably lent more insight to the structure of language than anyone. And Buddha lead a radically no-frills life on his way to Nirvana, only requiring the bare minimum in food, clothing, and shelter in order to live.
The underlying assumption is that ‘less is more.’ It is a tired but stubborn creed. I’m not in the game of explaining why a minimalist approach breeds success — be it, business, academic or spiritual. Instead I’m in the game of shining a light on a piece of wisdom that has stood the test of time. A piece of wisdom executives, managers and employees might be wise themselves to heed.
If we assume minimalism is useful to your business strategy, then how can it be implemented? Of course, there are many ways. Given that this is an open source workflow and Business Process Management (BPM) blog, let’s focus on one: ProcessMaker.
At its core ProcessMaker is a minimalist tool. Automating your processes results in less paper, less email, less confronting your socially awkward colleague. Take the simple task of ordering office supplies such as requests for notepads, ink cartridges, desks and desk lamps, bathroom soap, Febreze, sticky pads and so forth. Without an automated process, ordering supplies is haphazard, ad hoc and sometimes annoying. ProcessMaker’s Purchase Request Process offers a streamlined solution. Rather than monitoring disparate and irregular requests, supervisors can manage all orders through a central hub. A minimal amount of time and work is needed to execute an order.
With a BPM strategy, business processes are stripped of their inefficient stalk and organized into efficient cobs. ProcessMaker enables a company to spend less time thinking about normal day-to-day runnings and more time producing value. It would not have been a good use of the supervisor’s nor employee’s time to have had a back-and-forth on the particulars of ordering 2.5 cm paper clips. When extended to other workflows, say, expense report submissions, invoicing, and IT support requests the benefits are compounded.
The idea behind minimalism is that fewer assumptions can yield a better solution. In the case of Jobs and Apple, a cell phone with fewer external accoutrements and an easy software can yield an incredibly profitable product. In the case of Chomsky, a hypothesis can yield a better understanding of language. In the case of Buddha, a way of life can yield eternal bliss. And, in the humble case of ProcessM(aker)inimalism, a process can yield measurable gains in productivity.