Tag Archives: The Pursuit of Elegance

“Chain Of How” = Problem

You are wasting employee skills and your customer’s time by not equipping your staff to solve problems.

While getting four new tires this weekend, I was being helped by the crew supervisor.  The other team-members interrupted my time with the supervisor to ask where to order a replacement part for another customer, how to enter a refund for someone else, and other similar questions.  Every customer with these crew-members had to wait for their person to get advice from the supervisor.  Of note, EVERYcrew-member had a question.

I recently finished Matthew May’s “In Pursuit Of Elegance” and he talks about a company named FAVI.  Before the latest CEO began, he noticed a trend in the company loosely translated as a “Chain Of How”.  This means a worker needs to ask a supervisor for help, then it goes to a manager, up to a director, reaches the VP, then finally lands on the CEO.  This model implies only the CEO is smart enough to solve problems.  The book goes into more fascinating detail about FAVI that will get you to think differently.

I saw a little version of  the “Chain Of How” in play while at the tire center.  When you begin to see this pattern in your organization, call it out as a problem immediately

You need to improve information flow so your crew can find answers themselves.  You need to teach, model, and support problem solving methods so your staff is equipped.  Look at your approval protocols to see if they are too stringent.  Look to see if your culture put leaders on the mantle as the smartest people.

Once you train your team how to solve problems and break the “Chain Of How”, you will stop wasting employee skills and customer waiting time.  It will also place you in a prime position to take your Lean journey to a whole new level.

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My 2009 Hansei: Scarcity inspires creativity and innovation.  How can I help harness that inspiration?

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Filed under Business, Improvements, Problem Solving, Waste