When I had my car in for servicing the other day, I saw a sign in the waiting room.
“Ask About Our 29-Point Inspection”.
Well, that became a legit source of inspiration. And not about cars — about our businesses.
So, as I’m waiting for my car, I get a call from someone who owns a law firm. A friend told him to call me for advice. I can tell he’s frustrated and could use a little guidance. I ask my go-to question, “What is your biggest productivity challenge?”
He said that the biggest issue in their business is his father who is the chief partner and the bottleneck because he has to approve everything.
So I asked him, “Do you document processes?”
He said,”Yeah, we do. We have a bunch.’
I said, “Do you have a process for the review that your father does?’
He answered, “No, we don’t.”
The sign in that otherwise dull as dirt waiting room took on a whole new meaning right then.
You see, a master mechanic might have had to do the inspection in the beginning. However, if you have this 29-point inspection documented, now a more junior person can do it because it’s memorialized and road tested by a mechanic in charge.
I know what you’re thinking. “But that’s objective, mechanical, right or wrong”. It not at all like a lawyer’s work.
Not necessarily. Because what the documented system allows you to do, is take a process you think is very qualitative and subjective and start to put some hard stops around it.
I appreciate that there is a vast difference between crafting a legal document and reviewing it. You would want the best attorney crafting the material, but the review can be clearly be handled by a less senior person.
Additionally, if that senior attorney crafted a 29-Point Inspection, documented the thought process, anticipated the pot-holes and made contingency plans accordingly, the work becomes seamlessly transferrable.
I think my caller’s fundamental problem was an issue of control, not competency. The pushback I usually hear in these scenarios is “Well they just know it when they see it.” That can’t be documented.
I say that’s not true.
Machine learning has taught us otherwise.
I process a massive amount of content using a machine learning algorithm that has been able to reverse engineer it to an 87% accuracy based on something entirely qualitative. So if that’s the case, we can easily document subjective constraints objectively.
So I said, “Take a document that he might review and have him talk through it with you. Have him talk through why he makes changes he does and what things he looks for in an agreement.’ He might say, ‘Oh, I always want to include these clauses, or people typically write it this way, but I would prefer to have it in this way.’
So in your business, if there’s something that you think is just you and just so qualitative and you are the bottleneck to progress, start to talk it through out loud with somebody. Question why you make the decisions you make, why you pick something or change something. What you are beginning to create is your own 29-point inspection checklist that somebody else can easily take off your plate.
Remember, they don’t have to take all 29 points off your plate. If they take 5 points off your plate, that’s progress. Progress is all we need. That and new brake pads, but whatever.