What a German traffic measure can teach us about maximizing efficiency

Having lived in Germany for quite a while, I can safely say the Germans pride themselves on efficiency. They generally know how to achieve maximum productivity. But there’s one thing that doesn’t fit the picture. Where I live, villages are interconnected by roads with lots of roundabouts and crossings. Here, the speed limit drops very suddenly. And once you hit the straight road again, you’re allowed to accelerate significantly. In an era where we collectively try to tackle climate issues, this is a counterproductive measure. There’s no logic to it, and it reduces efficiency.

What goes for traffic also goes for the business realm: if you’re keen on maximizing efficiency, you always need to consider the process flow.

The importance of connection

Most organizations work on optimizing the flow of a stand-alone process. Once they’re done, they believe they have achieved the pinnacle of efficiency. But they have only just begun.

It’s essential to realize that rules and protocols will never replace the human factor. They are guidelines people can use to make well-informed decisions. Those decisions, though, spring from the human brain. And what about unforeseen circumstances, exceptions, and ad-hoc situations? You will need hands-on employees who can make on-the-spot choices based on actionable, real-time knowledge and insights.

So, you can only optimize your process flow if you allow room for flexibility and recognize each employee’s role in the process. Connecting at the human level is paramount.

But that’s not all there is to it. We should also discuss the importance of interconnecting processes, which will help you improve them all and create the ideal flow.

The merit of multi-process management

We’ll illustrate our point using a practical example. Our customer Cygnific (an Air France-KLM company) combines two separate processes in a very clever way. At first sight, the sales process doesn’t seem to be related to the aircraft boarding process. But Cygnific provides the airplane crew with information obtained by customer service agents to improve the passenger experience. That is why, for instance, a flight attendant can surprise a newly married couple with a nice little extra, significantly enhancing the customer experience!

Want to explore multi-process management from a Visual Management perspective? Please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d be happy to perform a Quick Scan and discuss your opportunities.

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