Saturday, March 19, 2011

Good process design - We all do it every day

Designing a system that allows (or forces) the desired outcome sounds intimidating. We probably need a degree in Engineering or Business Administration to do it.

Or, we could rethink what system design really means and realize that we already do it every day.

I've been thinking/obsessing about system design since a couple of posts last week(1, 2). Rather than calling it "system design", I've tried to think more about "Making it easier to do the right thing". That makes it more accessible for me. I think we all do this every day. We just don't make a fuss about it.

Several months ago, I decided that I would take some vitamin and mineral supplements every day. I started off taking them reliably every morning, but after a couple of weeks, I was missing most days.

I was still committed to taking the supplements, but found it a nuisance to add one more item to my morning routine.

I keep these 3 vitamin bottles in a bathroom drawer. Getting them out, opening each bottle and shaking out the pills takes about 2 minutes, but it seems like it's a lot longer when I'm in a rush to get to work. Plus, taking the vitamins isn't a critical part of the morning flow (like breakfast or showering), so it's easy to convince myself that I can skip a day.

I re-engineered my system by getting a pill box.

I fill it on the weekend when I'm not so rushed. I keep it next to my toothbrush so it's accessible and also linked to another part of my regular morning flow. Works like a charm.

Good system design - It's not just for breakfast anymore.

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