This is either going to sound stupid or you’re going to be nodding your head in silent, weary agreement.
Have you ever worked for a company that processes actively prevented you from doing your job?
I was speaking with someone recently who provides support for a piece of tech kit that many offices use. They use 4 different suppliers to help deliver their service. 3 external companies and their own company. So I asked him – what’s the biggest barrier you face in your role?
He started laughing. And here’s why:
- Supplier A is great. His team can access the supplier’s system and see how everything’s going.
- Supplier B is also great – pretty much the same as above.
- Supplier C is not too bad. They have limited system access but the supplier responds instantly to requests.
- His own company is the absolute worst to deal with.
He hates it when they have a customer that uses their own company’s system. They have zero access to their system and it takes days for their company to respond. When they get a service outage, they’ll often send an engineer out (as part of their contract with customers) who’ll then sit there waiting for another division to tell them what’s happening.
If they had access to their own companies system – the problem would be solved. They could diagnose the problem with the kit correctly and take appropriate action. No waiting, No lead times, perfect.
And the process works for all their suppliers.
So why doesn’t the company allow them access to the system? I didn’t get the chance to speak to the department myself so I can only speculate.
If the reason is access control or security – then this seems a poor one. If external providers can accommodate access without compromising control or security, surely they can too.
Did they not understand the impact of giving access to another department?
This seems more likely. Senior Managers who control decisions such as this are simply not close enough to the work to understand the incredibly poor impact it has on customers, not to mention the morale of the colleagues who are continually frustrated at not being able to service their customers properly.
Lean has a silly Japanese term for overcoming this – it’s called Gemba and it means going to the ‘actual place’ where the work is. Think factory floor, shop floor, or call centre.
At Lean Consulting we like to call it ‘walking the process’ (because you know, we speak English and stuff).
It’s incredibly powerful. There is nothing quite like getting senior managers to walk step by step through a horrible, clunky, miserable customer process to galvanize change and take away ridiculous self-imposed obstacles that prevent us from servicing our customers effectively.
When was the last time a senior manager in your organisation ‘walked the process’?