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The Mysterious Process

Sunday, February 28, 2010 by Slaughter Development

Operating a business through process-oriented work is what defines a successful company. And, despite the dozens of adjectives that go into describing any given process, the purpose should be well-defined and known to all stakeholders involved.

Every time Slaughter Development analyst Ashley Lee walks into the gym with her two children, two processes occur. First, the receptionist at the front desk scans her card. Second, she is handed a long, red tag entitled “Kids Zone.” Having never been told what to do with the tag, Ashley simply accepts it, heads to the children’s daycare and leaves it on the countertop.

Curious as to why the daycare attendants never ask for the red tag, Ashley questioned its existence this week.

Ashley: Excuse me, may I ask what this red tag is for?

Daycare Attendant: You know, I actually have no idea.

Ashley: Really? It doesn’t serve a purpose?

Daycare Attendant: Well, I figure its to show us that you have a family membership at the gym. Really though, none of us were told what its actually for.

Since little was known about it, Ashley proceeded to the front desk to ask the receptionist. Upon her arrival, she found the manager there instead.

Ashley: May I ask why I’m given a red tag every time I enter the gym?

Manager: The red tag symbolizes that you have a family membership.

Ashley: So bringing the tag to the daycare proves to the attendants that we’re paying for the service?

Manager: Well, sort of. Really, its not up to the daycare attendants to determine that. The front desk attendant is supposed to check your profile on the computer after scanning your card. They give you the red tag to confirm that you are paying for the membership.

Ashley: But, if the receptionist knows I’m paying for the membership and the daycare attendants aren’t responsible for knowing, why the red tag? Isn’t it kind of useless?

Manager: Pretty much.

All in all, Ashley ended her investigation with one conclusion: the process of the red tag has zero significance.

Be wary of any process that leaves a false impression of purpose. If its left unquestioned or goes unexplained, all that’s created—besides confusion—is incompetence among stakeholders. Submitting to a transparent, misdirected process is more than just wasteful. Its frustrating. After all, doesn’t that useless process increase costs to the customer?

To learn how Slaughter Development can help companies overcome processes that leave stakeholders running in circles, contact us today. We’ll do more than just provide a  fluid solution. We’ll assist in creating a purposeful and productive pathway for process success.

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Like this post? Here are some related entries from The Methodology Blog you might enjoy:

Process Automation and Morale - The local Indianapolis telephone services company, Interactive Intelligence, has announced “communications-based process automation.” The offering sounds great for management, but what about for employees? Read on »
Process Management Is Wrong For You - Continuous improvement programs like Six Sigma insist that processes must be managed. Although this might seem reasonable, it is stakeholders— not managers—who should design and maintain regular routines. Read on »
Anecdotes, Evidence, Process Improvement - One of the most inspirational sources of workflow improvement is medicine. Yet, what makes doctors effective are not good outcomes, but understanding why good outcomes actually occur. Read on »
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