Imagine you’re standing beneath a canopy of fluorescent lights. In front of you, rows of cereal boxes are neatly arranged. You locate the one you’re here to buy, pick up the box and head to the register. You pay, kindly tell the courtesy clerk to keep their plastic bag (so environmentally-conscious of you!) and carry your favorite cereal all the way home for breakfast tomorrow. Feel happy? We hope so.
You were just a part of someone’s workflow! Fun, right? We think so. In fact, you and I actually find ourselves participating in dozens of workflows each and every day. It’s pretty amazing to consider the level of detail, thought and organization required to ensure that you can eat your favorite cereal in the morning or fill up your car’s gas tank, buy tickets to an upcoming performance and so much more.
Chances are high that you only take notice of a workflow when a process is absolutely effortless or when you encounter a pain point—something isn’t right with the system and you experience frustration in achieving your end goal. While a company hopes to minimize bad experiences due to pain points, they can also learn a great deal from them. They provide an opportunity to go back through the process to uncover issues and make improvements to ensure a smooth, and even enjoyable, customer experience.
Our team loves this picture, found above our heads each and every day in our workspace—this workflow serves as a tremendous reminder of the intricacy involved in delivering what’s needed to the end user, people just like you and me.
We notice a few things:
• First, the system isn’t necessarily pretty, but it sure gets the job done.
• Two, the system supports far more than meets the eye—we’re not the only ones who benefit or experience pain points as we interact with the system.
• Three, there’s more to understand and learn as we maintain, refresh and even overhaul the system to ensure it runs smoothly and accomplishes its objectives over time.
Throughout the lifespan of any particular workflow, we engage in a constant ebb and flow of forward movement, tinkering to improve processes while addressing system blocks, and staying on course. We’re finding that an attentiveness to our workflow is an inevitable and necessary part of our workdays. But, in order to stay motivated in the continuous improvement cycle, we must connect each piece of what we’re doing back to why we’re doing it.
Our “Why” is a profound motivator. Regularly returning to the reason we exist helps us create, develop and engage on a much grander level. It also helps us relationally connect better to our team and customer in the midst of the day-to-day.
What do you notice about your workflow? As we approach 2017, we invite you to join us in asking this question. One thing is for certain, there’s something to learn in the asking… We think that’s pretty great and hope you do, too. Here’s to serving our teams and our customers well for a long time to come!