EAST a simple and pragmatic approach to optimization
EAST is a human-centric model for continuous process improvement and minimalism.
Human-centricity: Many of our tools, processes, systems and products certainly match a business need. However, being generally used by humans, adopting a user-centric or staff-centric approach is not an option anymore. Users vote with their feet, and the same applies to staff-retention.
Minimalism: Everyone praises a well-thought 2 step-process or a single-button app, yet many fall in the trap of moreness. It takes courage and hard decisions (not to mention stakeholder management) to apply a less-is-more approach.
Continuous improvement: Not having all the time, resources or technological capability to run a full extent of changes should not hold you back. You might apply the theory of constraints (what is the highest value, most critical issue to tackle?) to focus on the weakest link, and iterate.
Less is more. But elimination is also the toughest challenge. Start by asking the hard questions:
- Does this feature/step/element really need to exist? Really?
- Is it duplicated anywhere else?
- Is it providing any value?
- If it does, does it belong outside of this process?
If you really cannot eliminate, then…
What can be done behind the hood, without any user interaction?
Remember when cars had starter levers? When starting a car in cold weather, you had to pull that lever to rev up the engine slightly. Now every car manages that without us having to do anything.
If you really cannot automate, then…
Combine, shorten, reduce, reorder
Now look at the result and ask yourself… How can give the user something back?
Reward your user. Either you were not able to help them with any of the above for this specific field/step/case. Or maybe you did a fantastic job.
The fourth step in the process is to find opportunities to give the user something for their effort. This may require a fair amount of creativity.
You can apply the EAST framework to:
- Structures (eg. organisations)
- Portfolio, programs & projects
- Products (feature level and UI level)
- Services and more…
Pre-requisites: You need to come ready with an existing journey map/form/blueprint/artefact. Pin it to the wall so the team can move around it.
First apply EAST to the whole feature/flow.
Can you eliminate the process altogether?
Can you automate it?
- Candidate for an “Art of the Possible” workshop
Can you simplify this process?
- Can it be merged with another? If so you may need to zoom out and consider how it fits in the bigger picture.
How can you tip/reward the user?
- How can you pay them back from completing this process?
- How can you make the journey globally more pleasant for them?