How many times have you heard an employee say; “All I do is fire-fight all day”! It’s a common phenomenon to jump from one problem to the next and all too frequently have to re-fight the same battle more than once. It leads to great inefficiency, loss of productive time, and frustration for the client and staff member alike. Something has got to change.
Just like alcoholics, we need to admit we have a problem before proceeding to get treatment. If you don’t see the problem or at least feel the confusion, frustration and repetitive behaviors that are leading to low-performance or even loss of revenue, you can’t and will not commit to finding a remedy that leads to greener pastures.
Only fools will continue to the same things over and over expecting a different outcome. (Albert Einstein definition of “Insanity”) To change your behavior, you are required to gain new experiences that can lead to sustainable actions in a proactive manner or at least solving at the root cause rather than at the surface.
There’s no easy way out, its been tried and proven too many times that cutting corners or doing it only some of the time just doesn’t work.
Customer Service facing industries like healthcare are a difficult beast to tame and what worked for Toyota Productions in their factories might not work in our hospitals, clinics or patient service centers. However, we can make a commitment to a “Zero Defect” culture whereby we complete a root cause analysis for every error we commit. We might not be able to stop the assemble line by pulling the “Andon String”, but we should not allow the same errors to recur over and over without deeply understanding “WHY” and problem solve around the root cause.
Our front-line team members are often in the most difficult positions completing multiple task at any given time. They often have to work at an expected pace to ensure on-time delivery of a particular service to meet customer expectations and company standards. We rarely give them enough time to problem solve in real-time due to the fact there’s no slack in the system. Are we doing right by our most valuable assets? Most likely not, we are asking too much without providing the right amount of education, training and support to prevent errors from taking place or to solve problems at the root cause in near real time.
As positude leaders, we need to recognize our current shortcomings and develop a countermeasure to fit the need to solve problems on the front-line. I’m in favor of using A3 Thinking as my preferred tool of choice. (PDCA), it’s a standardized approach to solving at the root cause by following some very basic steps for each error that occurs.
Let’s review the basic steps in chronological order and if I get enough feedback from my readers, I will write a few more blogs on this topic and dive a bit deeper into each step.
Here we go….
- Identify your focus area also known as scoping your problem statement
- Establish your current process that lead to the error
- Identify the key metrics associated with this problem and establish future state metric
- Solve at root cause by using the “5 WHY” strategy and complete a GAP-analysis
- Develop your hypothesis statement “If we, Then we”
- Pilot your new process and validate it works
- Timeline of accountability who, when, how
- Measure the NEW process outcome over a period of time to get to the new NORM
- What did we learn and how can we apply this new learning to other processes
It’s just a teaser however simple enough for you to identify a single problem in your areas of operations to give it a try. Trust me, solving at the root cause will be your gateway to future success, efficiency, profitability, and foremost happy clients and team members.
Let me know how it works for you!