Avoid “Dummy-Proofing” to Encourage Better Ideas and Engaged Workers

Author

Eric Ravenscraft

November 21, 2014

Whether you’re an employer or just trying to wrangle people on a project, it’s tempting to make things as simple as possible. As Netflix CEO Reed Hastings suggests, though, “if you dummy-proof the process, you only get dummies to work there.”

Many folks prefer it when they have clear instructions to follow. That doesn’t mean you have to hold their hands, though. By reducing work to a process that’s so finely controlled that anyone can do it, you eliminate any creativity or alternative ideas that could make it better:

“People tend to think that they need a process for everything, and once in a while you hear ‘We’re going to dummy-proof it.’ But if you dummy-proof the process, you only get dummies to work there,'” Hastings says. “That’s why we’re so opposed to that and focused on giving people great freedom. They’ll make mistakes, of course, but you’ll get a lot of great ideas.”

There’s a different between being clear and concise, and simply holding people’s hands. Remember, your coworkers or employees are people too. Allow them the freedom not only to change their processes, but to make mistakes. An interested worker is almost always better than a button pusher.

Netflix Founder Reed Hastings: ‘Make as Few Decisions as Possible’ | Inc.

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