Information Flow

How information flows through a process is important

A good process flow has a knock on effect on the rest of a company.

Yesterday I was reminded of the importance of having good processes that enable good information flow. I wanted to share the example with you…. consider this sequence of events

At lunchtime, my little boy was running around in the school playground when he bumped his head with another boy. The dinner lady made a note of the time and name and after lunch registered this in the accident book.

After lunch, he went back into the classroom and started to feel ill. So, he asked to go to the toilet. He says he woke up at the side of the toilet so he may have blacked out and after that, he was sick and went back to class.

Eventually, the school contacted us to advise that he had been sick and we brought him home.

When we got him home he had all sorts of symptoms ranging from weak legs, pins and needles, sickness and a headache. We decided to call help and in no time, we had a paramedic and an ambulance taking him to the hospital.

By this time, we had asked him a few questions and only then did we find out that he had bumped his head. The bump on the head letter turned up shortly thereafter.

Now I’ll stop there, as this captures the main issue which I’m sure you can clearly see:

  1. Was there an information passing failure from the playground to the classroom that would have meant the teacher followed him to the toilet? What if he did blackout but with more severe consequences?
  2. Why did we only find out about the bumped head later down the line? The process failed to link the sickness and the bumped head.

Thankfully in this scenario, everything seems to now be OK but it is a reminder of what can go wrong if we don’t have effective processes that are set up to deliver the right outcomes.

I see this all the time in organisations. They may not be dealing with small children and head injuries but they will be making the same mistakes with their customers.

As a Customer, you’ve probably felt some of this yourself for example, when you provide documentation for a loan or mortgage and then days later get a request for the same thing or you have an insurance claim declined because the wrong information was provided into the process.

Using Improvement methods such as Lean can really help us to uncover some of the frailties in our processes and start to change them for the better. Hopefully, the feedback provided to the school will be used in a positive way.