Business Depends on Simple Repetitive Tasks

by Jan Yuill

The Desert by Agnes Martin

What would you pay for the 72 x 72 in. acrylic and graphite painting by Canadian artist, Agnes Martin, shown in the image on the left? Not much? Think again. It is expected to sell for between $4-6 million at a Sotheby’s auction this month. You can place your bid here.

The painting is a faint depiction of a desert painted in 1965, and is an “extremely subtle grid of light grey pencil lines set against a soft beige background.” Yup. That’s what I see too. Not much.

When I first read the article I thought it was a joke. I laughed. And then I read more closely and realized it was no joke. And then I read more closely still, and remembered seeing the many colored brush strokes of the woman’s dress in Renoir’s Dance at Bougival up close and personal when it was at my local gallery. It was amazing. Mesmerizing. Each color, each brush stroke, took incredible thought and care and precision. It was still just paint on a brush applied to a canvas … but it was done by a master.

What does this have to do with business? Well, whenever simple, repetitive work is done to perfection … it is nothing but remarkable. According to Michael Gerber (The E-Myth Revisited) it becomes an art form. Think of the person changing the sheets in a hotel room, flipping a burger, driving a bus, cleaning your teeth, or tailoring a suit. Repetitive, yes. Simple? Maybe the action is simple, but the attitude, skill, and dedication applied to quality, consistency, and accuracy is not so simple.

But every business requires simple repetitive tasks to be done consistently, routinely, accurately, and with a smile. Customers demand it. Profits depend on it.

How do you see those simple, repetitive tasks in your business? How do you see the people who are responsible for doing those tasks? You can be sure that their day-after-day commitment and expertise is no small accomplishment. Without them your business would be in big trouble.

This article first appeared at