I had just flowed the work in a department, and it was a shocker. A clerk would fill in a form at the desk. The clerk would then scan the form and send the scan via email. They would also enter the information onto a computer.
The result was three separate workflows of the same information, that was transported, sorted and checked by admin staff, and then received by an account manager (AM) to review and act on the information.
I happened to talk at an AM who I had not met before, and I mentioned that we were doing a review. She immediately replied, ‘why, all you need to do is to connect the AM to the clear, and the clerk put the information correctly onto my system immediately. She had hit on the solution that we were coming up with.
Why had no-one ever asked her? If they had asked, why did no-one listen?
- 20 people touched the information
- there were six check stages
- errors were over 60%
there was a backlog of 400 items and five weeks delay. The department was asking for eight more staff to handle the shortfall. What would you do?
Why do we, as managers and leaders, fail to take advantage of the knowledge and understanding in our organisation? It would save us consultants fees, reports, and the lethargy of employees who are not engaged.
Start by sitting with everyone in the flow of work. You’re there to learn about the work, so engage, ask open questions about the work:
‘what gets in the way of you doing a good job?’
‘why does that happen?’
‘how often does that go wrong?’
Focus on the demand from the customer, and understand what matters. Keep that in mind as you watch how well your workflow effectively deals with this.
Look for the barriers, and think about the root causes of the barriers you find. How many of those root causes have you put into the system for good reason? It’s the system that you have put in place that drives the waste and behaviour.
Call a consultant who knows what they are doing, to help you, your managers, and staff to develop this capability inhouse. Creating an engaged and continuously improving workforce, working on the flow of work in the right way. Look at your workflows as an outside in system, end to end.
Helping others to learn how to do better things