I just want my coffee!

Posted By on Déc 1, 2009

My current client is located near a McDonald’s so it has become my office away from the office. The main features of this location are wireless internet connection and of course, lots of coffee. To my surprise, the coffee at McD’s is pretty good! But getting a cup of it is a tad bitter.

The procedure to “efficiently” serve clients is quite evident. The cashier takes the order, punches it in the register, the bill comes out and adds it to a queue of orders on the counter, either on a tray, on a take-out bag or stand alone (when you order a coffee). A copy of this order is printed out in the back and another employee is responsible for assembling it. Sounds like a pretty good set-up.

My “beef” with this is… I just want a coffee!

I order a java but it won’t arrive until Joe gets his Egg McMuffin trio, Joan gets her pancakes and that sweet elderly couple get their whole wheat toasts, no butter. Of course, employees are simply following the plan laid out by management to effectively control the flow of orders –The perfect recipe to control chaos. At this point, the cashier is just standing there or even worse, taking more orders and adding to the queue. Now we are about 10 clients huddle together and waiting for orders that vary from a simple blueberry muffin to the complex Egg McMuffin with no cheese.

Using this time to reflect, I get this shiver down my spine when I remember that my many of my clients are doing exactly this! Ouch!

Instead of following the well defined and linear plan, why can’t the cashier quickly dispense the muffins and the coffees and thus reducing the queue by at least half?

Instead of completing form x, going through the architectural review, finalizing a use case and running a formal peer review, why can’t a development team bypass this and deliver quick value and high return on investment?

I often use the McD’s example by asking teams: Is this a coffee or Egg McMuffin trio…with no cheese? For this specific feature, do we really need to go through the regular channels and overhead or do we have an opportunity to deliver quick value? Not surprisingly, the answers are often to bypass the “normal” procedure. What IS surprising is that the methodology gatekeepers often agree! The result of this is:

  • reduced inventory
  • reduced motion
  • and reduced waiting

Who said reducing waste was difficult? 😉

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