There is a book that is truly dangerous, and I will not name it in the interest of protecting you from yourself and me from the author’s lawyers. But it has a title something like Backyard Trebuchets. If you see it, do not touch it. Run away. Of course, you will not follow my well-intentioned advice.

The book tells you how to build a medieval catapult device in your backyard that can fling a pumpkin 1500 feet. By now, most female readers have gone on to another article, but guys are thinking “cool!”

Here is what you should know:

  • Yes, Dad and college-bound son can build a functioning trebuchet.
  • A trebuchet will fling a pumpkin-size object a truly amazing distance.
  • Trebuchets are somewhat tricky to aim.
  • Trebucheting can be expensive. Here is a representative cost based on one shot of a well-designed backyard trebuchets
    • Materials for the trebuchet: $198.56
    • Neighbor’s broken window: $843.31
    • Stain removal for neighbor’s carpet: $135.00
    • Tropical fish replacement: $280.00
    • Neighbor’s lawyer (category: brother-in-law, sub-type: shyster): $235.00
    • My lawyer (category: Yellow Pages, sub-type: shyster): $59.99
    • Flowers for my neighbor: $35.00
    • Flowers for my wife: $25.00
    • Flowers for my wife after she sees the florist’s bill for my neighbor’s flowers: $65.00
    • Total educational value of the do-it-yourself trebuchet project: $1,876.86
  • Luckily, most backyard trebuchets are one-shot devices.

Many executives approach design of their core business processes like a backyard do-it-yourself project. You know the buzzwords that make up the drill: cross-functional team, team-building, flip charts, vision, implementation coordination, project reprogramming, and legal fees.

Trebuchet lessons for process design:

  • When you identify a project or process that needs redesign, you may want to think twice before you do it yourself and launch your pumpkin.
  • Many times, “well-designed” processes have unintended (but predictable) results.
  • Unlike weekend do-it-yourself projects, gray hair helps in process design.

If you have an important process whose cost or quality might benefit from redesign, call us. We might be able to help you prevent a do-it-yourself disaster. By the way, if you call me, I’ll send you a harmless desktop trebuchet.