Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Outdated Processes are a delicious low hanging fruit

The pool at my townhouse development opened up this weekend.  I went soon after it opened.  My plan was just to lie on a pool lounge chair for an hour or two with my headphones on and de-stress from a very tough first half of the year.

The procedure is to check in by writing your pool tag number on a sign-in sheet.  They don’t keep track of who comes or when because there is no limit and no benefit of coming more or less often.  They just want to make sure you have paid your pool fee for the year.  You don’t even need to write down your name.  Just the tag number.

This year they have located the lifeguard table all the way on the other side from the entrance.  So I showed the lifeguard that I had a tag, yelled the number (he was sitting right in front of the sheet), and sunk my butt on the first chair that was facing the sun.  I was half-asleep in five seconds.  But nooooo.  He had to yell over to me that I needed to walk around the pool, write the number “0079” on the page, and then walk back.  There was no reason for me to lie about the number and the tags are color-coded so he knew it was a 2012 tag.

Why am I sharing this stupid waste of time on a beautiful sunny morning on an Industrial Engineering blog?  Simple.  How many of these processes and procedures are cursing your own workplace?  They usually start out with a good purpose.  But then the world changes around them.  Technology gets implemented.  Processes get updated.  The layout gets moved around.  And pretty soon there are these wasteful processes that everyone follows either out of habit or because they are dedicated to following the rules.

Once a year, you need to do a survey of the employees and a procedure walkthrough to see how many of these relics there are and then get rid of them.  This is the very definition of low hanging fruit.  Easiest million you ever made for your company.  Make sure to document the productivity gain for the next time you are in front of the company execs doing a cost-benefit for your department.

No comments: