Friday, November 23, 2012

Process Improvement Starts with Thinking in Terms of Processes

Many times analytics are used to improve processes. These efforts will fail without one important key thought--when something goes wrong, it is the fault of the process, not the process user.

Here is an example. A few years ago a traffic circle was installed in my brother's neighborhood. I commented about the advantages of traffic circles. He said, "They may be good in other places, but people around her just don't understand them. We keep having accidents."

I was surprised by that statement. The next time I was in the area, I drove through the traffic circle, again. I noticed it was much more narrow than other traffic circles I had seen. Shortly after that, the local transportation agency removed the traffic circle and replaced it with a traditional intersection.

Did the people of the area really misunderstand how to use a traffic circle? It is possible there is a learning curve. However, traffic circles work in other neighborhoods not far away. I think it is more likely that the traffic circle (process) had inherent flaws. It appeared the road was too narrow, and the circle entrances did not have any lead area.

To improve processes using analytics, base your decisions on the quality of the process, not the capability of the users.

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