Tag Archives: process

Process for bad Service

In an office building’s bathroom, a sparky (electrician) was working to fix a hand dryer. Great!

Someone using the bathroom commented to them that one of the two lights wasn’t working, and if he’d be able to fix that while he was there. Answer: “Sorry no, I don’t have a work slip for that.” For those unaware, this means that this contractor would not get paid for the work – they only get paid for the specific work they do related to a particular work slip they are sent out with. Anything out-of-scope to that they can’t touch.

This is not the contractor’s fault, but rather the way the work request system of the building managers is organised. We can clearly see this leads to bad service as well as inefficiency (extra cost). Whatever it was trying to achieve, it probably isn’t.

In a setup where the process is not stuffed up like this, the electrician would probably have noticed the broken light bulb themselves, and replaced it before it was even mentioned by a tenant. You know, the way things used to work…

Another example. When you file a problem with Australia’s NBN (National Broadband Network) fault system via your service provider, they send out an engineer, even if that is inappropriate for the task. The engineer is again contracted, and very restricted in what they are allowed to do. Many are highly skilled, however their expert input on a technical matter is not taken into account.

Unsurprisingly, the engineer is not actually able to fix an issue as they are not allowed to do what needs to be done, but because of the way the process is arranged, the fault marked as actioned and resolved – fault logged, engineer sent out. To make matters worse, NBN used to not track history per client to a next issue – that is, when you filed another fault, the engineer sent out would not have access to history. Each fault was regarded as separate. Apparently this has changed now (NBN presented this as a great innovation – sigh).

So what does such a stuffed process achieve? Well, if you look at certain statistics, it looks really good. There are issues raised, but they’re all actioned within days, and then closed. There are no long-running cases.

We may wonder, do these companies operate with malicious intent? Well, companies are of course made up of people, but bad business processes can cause a lot of hassle. The people may feel stuck, or are merely following orders. Processes may have (been) developed -specifically or organically- with the best of intent.

The key thing to realise is that intent does not effect outcome. Whatever you set up, regardless of intent, is likely to yield a specific outcome. Badness, even when done with good intent, is still badness.

Educational Song Lyrics

The Exception by Eddie Reader. The second verse:

The workaholic millionaire and his pretty younger wife
Had everything there was out there in the ad mans perfect life
But she left him for the milkman and then moved into his flat
Everyone said silly girl to do a thing like that
The house, the cars, the credit cards but he didn’t ask her why
He knows that there’s some things even cash can’t buy
Oh yes he thought he’d be the exception
Oh yes he thought he’d be the exception
But don’t we all think we’re the exception
Sometimes, sometimes

Of course, The Beatles sang about this long ago in “Can’t Buy Me Love” (1964) on their A Hard Day’s Night album.

It’s kinda obvious, and of course relates to happiness in general as much as love specifically, but we often forget and chase money with a ridiculous number of working hours. Consequently you’ll miss out on a life now, and not only be stuck later with the monster you built, but possibly also lose things in your life that you really care about.

I’ve had people tell me “oh I’ll just work 80+ hours a week this year, so I can take it easy from next year.” – I’m still waiting for any of them to accept my bet that in twelve months they’ll still be working 80+ hours, if not more – they already know they’re really deluding themselves!

What they’re doing is building business processes that presume that they’re working those hours and occupying various critical spots in operations, and that’s one aspect of the monster I referred to above. You get what you build, so if you want it different, build it differently.

By the way, do you know how children spell love? T I M E.