Was the fault in the system or in the execution?

Every business has times when things don’t go according to plan. A customer was let down and made a fuss, you are embarrassed and have to take remedial action. All of this costs money and time.

It is really easy to jump to conclusions and decide it was the fault of an individual. You remonstrate with the individual and that makes you feel better.

It doesn’t make them feel better – and it may not make their colleagues feel any better!

Take a step back & consider if the fault was really with the individual, or was it with the “system” they are operating in?

Consistent performance comes from well-established processes and procedures that miniseries the amount of human input required to achieve the end result. In many respects that is the basis of a quality system.

Do you have a set of processes and procedures, or are you just relying upon the knowledge and skill of the individual? Is it a blend of the two? You have processes, but they only work because of the individual’s ability to interpret them and apply their experience?

The perfect system is one where you could put a new person on the job, give them the procedure and they achieve the right result. Ultimately you are trying to de-skill the operation, so that everything is easy.

One great advantage of getting the procedures right is that it allows you to assign more complex tasks to the people who were using all their skills and experience to get the result without the procedure. You can give the de-skilled process to less experienced or less capable people.

That allows you to recruit at lower levels, invest in training those new people to learn your systems and grow into the business. If you don’t de-skill the processes, you have to hire people with greater skill levels who are going to be more expensive.

Time invested in creating processes is never wasted – but be a little wary. If you create an “idiot proof” system, someone will prove themselves to be a better idiot!


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