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Take the time to stop and really take an in-depth look at behaviours and processes which seem set in stone and it is surprising what emerges
When we look at processes and business efficiencies, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of simply tinkering at the edges rather than asking the hard questions. This can lead us to spending considerable time in tweaking processes without ever really examining whether we really need them in first place.
The cold hard truth is that checks and counter checks, balances and complex sign-off procedures which originated in the days of paper and filing everything in triplicate need not necessarily be the optimum solution in a more computerised world. But people are by nature creatures of habit and it’s all too easy to find excuses to justify procedures rather than to design new ones or to scrap existing processes altogether.
But take the time to stop and really take an in-depth look at behaviours which seem set in stone and it is surprising what emerges. Take queuing for example. The first-come first-served idea is so embedded in our day-to-day lives that queuing principle seems immutable. However, a study released by Trine Tornøe Platz and Lars Peter Østerdal of the University of Southern Denmark in June 2015 revealed that FIFO is inefficient in that it needs to long queues and bottlenecks. Their research has revealed that operating in last in first out method may actually be more efficient, provided that participants are made aware in advance that such a method will be used. Put simply, if people do not feel they have to arrive early in order to be served quickly, they are more likely to stagger their arrival, thus reducing queues and speeding up service time for all.
In the research summary, the authors comment that “the traditional use of the FIFO queue discipline may, counter intuitively perhaps, be a curse rather than a blessing” but that LIFO also has its own challenges. The research may eventually lead to profound changes in the way in which some businesses operate their customer interactions but on a far broader level it illustrates perfectly the way in which looking afresh at processes can bring some surprising results.