You Should Have A Document Free Business

I didn’t do high school or get much higher education so maybe I’m just not as smart as everybody else when it comes to documents… but, I really hate documents. I’m choosing to believe that my experience helped me realize you don’t need documents to get shit done.

Let me ask you this: Have you ever thought about what a document really is? I mean, beyond it’s utility, beyond any kind of business concept. Even beyond the structure of the document itself, for example, word doc, spreadsheet, email etc.

Here is what I think documents really are: they are black holes that deplete time and money from organizations. If you could put on special glasses that allow you to see time as matter, documents would appear the same as black holes do in the universe, just sucking time and cash into a black pit. Sucking time from people, and organizations, without a care at all.

Black holes don’t care that they suck matter into themselves, it’s just physics. This means there is nobody to blame but yourself for creating them.

Another way to think about it is comparing to interior design and minimalism. It’s really very similar. For example, a document is kind of like a table. A table in a room like a kitchen seems to make sense, but in other places a table is nothing but a trash and brick-a-brack magnet. Just focus on that for a second. A table, arguably most of the time, serves no purpose other than to collect things you don’t need or use very often.

It reminds me of these crazy stores like The Container Store. I think of these places as simply targeting people with OCD. It’s a simple concept, if you don’t have a lot of things to organize, like, you’re not a hoarder, then you don’t need a thing to organizes those things. Now you have zero things and can be at peace. While at peace, you might find yourself doing something useful, like exercising or actually working on your business.

Documents are no different. If your plan is one of action, then you don’t need a document. If you don’t have a lot of things to organize, then you don’t need a thing to organize them.

We should strive to have document free businesses. So how do you do that? It’s simple. If your business uses any kind of document, just imagine what you’d do without it. Then just do that, and do it a lot until you fail or succeed. Later you’ll thank yourself that you didn’t waste all that time making needless documents. Also, fire anybody that wants to work and create documents a lot, they are like saboteurs in your organization.

There are a lot of reasons why documents suck, so let me try to summarize some more:

  • you have to pay people to work on them
  • nobody has mastered the art of exciting documents, so you run the risk of boring your employees and ruining their productivity
  • when a teammate is working on a document, they probably aren’t doing anything useful
  • working on and sharing documents ruins the culture of your business, because other people start doing it
  • documents are often a way for people to avoid doing actual work. for example, “todo” lists. Todo lists are essentially things that the person wants to do but will probably not do, that’s why the are writing about them and not doing them.
  • documents often detail complexity in a business that should have just been removed in the first place.
  • 90% of studies show that documents are totally useless (just kidding, but I don’t doubt it)
  • documents create more work than is needed and are often obsolete
  • if documents existed in the time of the pyramids, the probably wouldn’t have been built. Maybe that’s why we don’t build a lot of cool shit anymore.
  • if working is the oil to your business’ motor, then a document is like sand.

Lots of exceptions to this, and just so I can destroy any complainers, I’ll show you a really powerful one.

When Elon Musk was first starting out building SpaceX, their first idea was to buy shuttle parts from 3rd parties and assemble them. Apparently they even flew to Russia to buy an ICBM but failed at negotiating prices.

Enter “The Spreadsheet That Changed The World” (this is what I call it).

Elon was pissed off by the Russians. So he sat at his computer for a while building a spreadsheet of the costs of rocket parts. According to the story he built a comprehensive list of parts that basically proved they could build rockets themselves for a lot cheaper. All his partners said it was one of the most impressive works of quick accounting they have ever seen. The rest is history.

Moral of the story: cut down on documents. Chances are, they are sucking time away from your goals, not helping you change the world.