Monday, April 6, 2009

Efficiency – The “Autobahn” part 2

Here you are, at your desk (or computer), your personal Autobahn for your office traffic.

You’ve learned to differentiate between your Porsches and your Trucks. Now let’s go a little further:

You have an emergency vehicle with flashing lights coming up from behind. What does that mean for your regular traffic? It has to move over and make room for the emergency vehicle. As a result you are now embroiled in the emergency and your regular traffic is stopped.

Ever happened? If not, then don’t bother reading further. BUT, if you have emergency happen in your business or organization then read on.

Any emergency that comes up must be addressed and handled as quickly as possible. That’s the nature of an emergency. But what happens if it’s not possible to get it out of the way quickly? Then your regular traffic (office work) keeps sitting there until it also starts to have flashing lights going and now everything is one emergency after the other. That’s not fun anymore, but pure stress.

How to avoid that? Is it possible? That’s not something you ask yourself while you are in the middle of the emergency, but how about afterwards?!!

Take the time and review the emergency. Ask yourself these questions:

a. Are the types of emergency I have to deal with of a similar nature?
If the answer is yes, what procedures and guidelines can be established to get them handled quicker, reduced in frequency or even avoided?
Get those established and known by all involved.

b. Was this an outside generated emergency (i.e. did the customer call with a last minute problem, etc.?
If yes, what could be done from your end to anticipate or even prevent such emergencies? Could you have made that extra call that would have avoided this?
Is there anything else that could have been done?
If there is, write a guideline for it and put these steps in place.

c. Was it an inside generated emergency? Did someone drop the ball? Was something not done?
If yes, get the person that was responsible for it corrected and then write a policy that would prevent this from happening again or get an existing company policy, which addresses that already, know and followed by all involved.

Having these steps done is going to reduce the amount of emergencies coming in (hopefully) and make work less stressful. Have more fun at work, ok?!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Efficiency - The Autobahn, part 1

The “Autobahn”! Most of you have heard about it, some of you have even driven on it.
It’s the net of Interstate Highways that crisscross Germany. At one time there wasn’t even a posted speed limit.

Now, large parts of it, especially those close to the more populated areas, have speed limits posted and enforced. And on the one’s that have no speed limits posted (yet), the traffic is at times so crowded, that you do not dare to “put the pedal to the metal”.

If that’s what you’d like to do, though, then you have to know where and when to drive.

Well, why am I writing about the Autobahn when this is about efficiency? It’s because I’m using the Autobahn as an analogy and I want you take a look at your desk (and your computer!) and get the idea that this is your personal “Autobahn”:

It should be clutter free so your traffic can flow along freely and quickly.

Let’s say you have two lanes moving in one direction and you have a Porsche in your left lane and a Truck in your right lane.

While there are a few major differences between these two, the one most notable difference is in speed. Your Porsche is a lot faster than your Truck.

What does that mean?

It means that you have Porsches and Trucks on your desk and you need to know which ones are the Porsches and which ones are the Trucks.

You Porsches are the communications that usually are awaiting a quick answer, like which pricing formula do you want me to use for this proposal, etc. Someone is waiting for a response and is stopped in what they are doing, for example.

Your Trucks, on the other hand, are the projects that just move along (unless there is a very short timeframe involved).

Your Porsches stay in the left lane, i.e. they are addressed first! Your Trucks, on the other hand, stay in the right lane, i.e. they are addressed after the Porsches are done.
As long as it’s done that way, your traffic moves with optimum speed across your desk.
However, when a Truck is allowed in the left lane, ALL traffic now moves slowly.

Now, your Porsche might get a flat tire (you have called a client and he’s not available right now, but will get back with you later the same day). In this case you have to move the Porsche onto the shoulder (the area designed for emergency stopping only). This means your desk has to have a shoulder (a basket designated specifically for that purpose) and only the stopped Porsches go there. You know that when your client calls you back that this is the only place you have to look for his paperwork. Easy!

Now, when you have to stop working on a Truck (a project), can he be moved onto the shoulder? NO! Parking is illegal on the shoulder. He needs to get OFF the Autobahn and into a parking lot. This is a specific area off the desk designated for the storage of projects only. This might be a hanging file or a set of hanging files specifically and only for projects or a basket placed on a shelf, etc.

The whole message here is:
Know what are your Porsches and what are your Trucks and don’t mix them up.

Safe driving!

Next time I’ll get into the rest of the traffic on your Autobahn…