Working Smarter Not Harder: How To Optimize Workflow

Optimizing workflow seems to be a huge challenge for a lot of businesses. One of my latest passions, my vertically-integrated company, Quantified Commerce, talks about rewriting the code for digital advertising in our mission statement. I love this phrase because it applies to so many things, particularly productivity in the office.

There is a parallel between how Quantified Commerce rewrites the code for our clients and how we rewrite it for ourselves. We focus on results through the most simple and logical processes. We focus on measurability and accountability. We guide our clients to higher ROIs with a marketable visibility through the philosophy of shooting for big gains with the most simple and logical output. This also applies to optimizing workflow.

We rewrite the code for everything, down to the management of our teams and our expectations from every individual. Optimizing workflow is one of the keys to our success. Our goal is to work smarter, not harder. This makes us a stronger machine, better able to serve our clients and our employees, which is an important aspect that is often overlooked.

Tips for Working Smarter Not Harder

I was inspired to write this article after reading this post on which I then shared with my team.

Creating a team environment with healthy competition around milestones is important to keep an optimized workflow. At Quantified Commerce, we keep our teams focused yet relaxed as we nurture a competitive team environment. Here are a few concepts we employ at Quantified Commerce to work smarter not harder.

Emphasize Health & Wellness

Hydration is a key component of team members performing their best. Having clean and fresh water available to your team is key to make sure everyone’s brain firing on all cylinders. Also, should a team member wish to prioritize health practices during the day such as running on the treadmill for 30 minutes, taking a mid-day reset yoga class, or going to a network chiropractic practitioner in the morning before work. Having that flexibility for your team where they can take care of themselves so they can take better care of you creates a win-win for everyone.

Turn the Work Place into a Game

The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack discusses how valuable gamification in a team environment can be. It creates a hyper-focus in employees by encouraging them to keep up with the output of their co-workers. The implementation is simple as discussed I discussed in The Times of India piece, “Playing The Great Game In India“. Here are some tips I shared with readers:

– Let your employees know the rules of the game and how they can carry them out. A vision of the big picture is important, just like levels in a game, employees stay productive when they know what they are building towards.
– Scoreboards are powerful. Being able to keep track of everybody’s score and how everybody is measuring up against their peers can do wonders for keeping each employee motivated. This raises productivity levels like nothing else.
– Rewards are essential. Without rewards, there is no reason for the competition to continue. Bonuses, raises and promotions are good options but whatever the reward, it must encourage the employee to want more success for the company and feel that they have been recognized for their good work at the same time.

The 4DX Model

Quantified Commerce takes this even further in our offices in India with the 4DX Model. It can be a challenge to get employees there to relax and see us as approachable. The corporate climate over there has been stiff for a while now and the people there have been trained to be wary of approaching upper management.

SCRUM Quantified CommerceWe deal with this by constant education about gamification in our daily SCRUM meetings and keep them updated on changes and advancements in both the company and our industry. Transparency is crucial if you expect accountability in return.

As my partner, Ryan Andreas, Quantified Commerce’s co-founder, details in World Wisdom News, the 4DX model comes from the book, The Four Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals. The four disciplines are key to maintaining focus and dedication, especially when you have to retrain a strict corporate mindset like we had to do in our India offices.

First Discipline: WIGs (Wildly Important Goals) are things that must be determined for each team so that the “whirlwind” of other activity in the office doesn’t shift their focus. WIGs take precedence and once clearly established, they become easier to focus on. It is important to make sure that there are no more than a couple of WIGs so that they are attainable.
Second Discipline: “Lead measures” versus “lag measures” are how we keep WIGs on track. Putting more focus on lead measures, how the goals are achieved by predicting achievement of the goal, is how we gain momentum. You can do something with these. Lag measures are important but all they really do is measure the goal with things like sales and profit. These are things that are in the past and have no bearing on achieving the goal.
Third Discipline: This is where gamification and 4DX meet. This discipline focuses on keeping the scoreboard visible for everybody to see. This promotes the competitive and therefore productive spirit.
Fourth Discipline: This is where the team environment comes into play and why it is so important. The discipline asserts that holding WIG meetings where the team members can hold each other accountable can produce impressive results. Making sure that it is done with a healthy and competitive edge instead of in a toxic and back-stabbing sort of way is also vital.

Final Thoughts

Combining both the gamification with the 4DX Model has proven to be an effective way of optimizing workflow at Quantified Commerce. These methods would work anywhere, in any environment. Not only does it keep up productivity but it also builds an ease of workflow with a team environment that bridges the gap between upper management and the rest of the company. This is an important aspect of being approachable and accountable to our clients. That is just one of the ways that we rewrite the code for productivity and in turn, client satisfaction.