Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Identify the Critical Pressure Points

Every business has its critical pressure points. Those parts of the business process that, should they go wrong, will have a knock-on effect to the rest of the business like a snowball effect.

The other night I went with some friends to a busy restaurant and the person on the door gave some wildly optimistic waiting times. People kept coming in and accepting the short waiting times he gave, had a drink at the bar and then started to complain.

By the time they were seated (around 3x the waiting period suggested) they had been in the bar long enough to be confident to complain even more. This of course slowed down the waiting staff even more and gave them a thoroughly stressful evening.

The restaurant was consequently so full that the kitchen couldn't cope either and food was coming out showing signs of a chef and his team struggling to cook so much food at once. Things were getting burned and being served blackened around the edges. More complaints.

The point is that the whole situatuion could have been alleviated by the doorman giving more realistic waiting times. They would have lost some customers, but the ones who stayed would have had a good night out instead of a bad one.

Having more business than you can satisfy should be on everyone's risk register. How would you turn business away, or delay it, without causing offence? Would you recognise when the situation was becoming out of hand and how would you step in to manage it?

Have you identified the critical pressure points that could be the cause of a build up of pressure on the other processes of the organisation? It's sometimes easier to solve symptoms than causes. But it's better to deal with the cause.

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