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Paperwork = Communication/History


Paperwork and administrative tasks are part of the communication structure and history of the company. What exactly does that mean?


Organizations that have more than 1 person, require the sharing of information. This facilitates the smooth sharing of work and increases efficiencies (done well, 1 + 1 = 3). Because organizations can get large, paperwork becomes a way of sharing information efficiently. After all, if one person needs the same information each week and getting it in the same format increases efficiency, why not create a form (paper or online). Ideally, the form is created with the user in mind - meaning it is designed to get what the creator needs while also making it as easy as possible on the person who completes the form. This becomes the communication. Which probably makes perfect sense to everyone.


History isn't as clear. Very often, paperwork is information that gets stored long term. This then creates a historical record. To the joy of many (and the chagrin of others), we now store this information electronically. It provides many different benefits - saves information to protect a company from lawsuits, saves data to make data analysis and decision making more efficient and effective, answers questions later that could not possibly be remembered, etc.


The issue is that these benefits are rarely seen by the person who completes the paperwork. Which is why our mind thinks of it as a waste of time or an inconvenience.


An analogy. Let's say a husband and wife split the cooking and shopping duties - the wife does the shopping and the husband does the cooking. The husband would most likely create a shopping list based on what he plans on making. The wife would use that list to do the shopping. Now let's say that "apples" are on the list. The wife may have to ask the husband to be more specific on the style and quantity. She may even create a form for him to fill out so he doesn't forget. That is a little extra work for the husband, but it ensures he gets what he wants and doesn't have to scramble at the last minute because she bought one Red Delicious instead of 3 Granny Smiths. This is the communication.


Take it a step farther, the wife may be incredibly organized and been entering this shopping list into Excel and doing some analysis. She notices, through a sharp eye and keen mind, that her husband needs about the same number and style of apples every 3 weeks. She may decide that she can stop at the Farmers Market near her workplace and get a bunch that would last the 3 weeks cheaper and faster than doing it during her weekly shopping trip. No one week told her this information - it was an analysis of several weeks. She essentially used history to be able to make decisions.


Let me be clear, I am not saying that useless paperwork doesn't exist (it does) or that you should enjoy the task (you won't). Just keep in mind that it does serve a very distinct and helpful purpose to the organization.

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