On a recent business trip to Geneva I flew from Leeds Bradford Airport in the North of England. I checked through on time and headed for the gate to be met by a scene of organised chaos. The queue was very long and heaving with Schoolkids on exchange visits, holidaymakers and business people. At the very end of this long queue we were given a tray into which we had to load our laptops, keys, belts etc as part of the security screening process. This was undoubtedly the bottleneck and by the time I got through security to the Gate I was informed by an attendant that I may well have missed the flight. I was then subjected to admonishment, had I not heard the attendants calling people through for the Geneva flight – “No” , I hadn’t heard anything in melee – anyway to cut a long story short I caught my flight but not without a lot of hassle and stress.
Contrast this experience with the return journey – same plane, same loading, same mixture of people.
Here, at Geneva, the queuing system was completely different. Rather than joining a long “snake” we joined the end of two queues where we were given a tray on a conveyor belt at the START of the queue. This gave us plenty time to put all our valuables into the tray before we reached the end of the queue and the X-ray machine. Consequenly there was no rush or panic, we all got through in plenty time & enjoyed a less stressful experience.
The difference was one of Systems Thinking. The system at Geneva was designed to speed the security process, eliminate bottlenecks and make thing easy for the customer. The system at Leeds-Bradford did the opposite.
If we employ Systems Thinking to our Business Processes, adopting the spirit of Kaizen, we will encourage the smooth flow of people and materials to aid maximum efficiency and process capability. If we ignore the system and blame the individual we will never achieve maximum efficiency & are doomed to fail.
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