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Analysis and Design
A Caution about Instant Improvements
While the analyst cannot match the employees' detailed knowledge of what happens
at their workplaces, it is not at all difficult to discover some things that those
people are unaware of, things that involve multiple workplaces. During data collection,
opportunities for improvement of a certain type surface immediately. Some of them
are outstanding. The analyst discovers, for instance, that records and reports
are being maintained that are destroyed without ever being used. Time-consuming
duplication of unneeded records is found. Information is delivered through roundabout
channels creating costly delays. The only reason these opportunities were not
discovered earlier by the employees is that the records had never been followed
through the several work areas. These instant improvements simply weren't visible
from the limited perspective of one office. The people preparing the reports had
no idea that the people receiving them had no use for them and were destroying
them. The people processing redundant records had no idea that other people were
doing the same thing.
These discoveries can be clearly beneficial to the organization. However, they
can be devastating for the relationship between the analyst and the operating
employees. The problem lies in the fact that the analyst discovers them. This
may delude the analyst into believing that he or she is really capable of redesigning
the procedure without the help of the employees. "After all, they have been
doing this work all these years and never made these discoveries. I found them
so quickly. I must be very bright."
Most people spend a great deal of their lives seeking confirmation of their
worth. When something like this presents itself, an analyst is likely to treasure
it. It becomes a personal accomplishment. It is perceived as support for two judgments,
"I am a lot better at this than those employees." and "Employees
in general are not capable of seeing these kinds of things." Both of these
judgments are wrong. The credit goes to the fact that the analyst was the first
person with the opportunity to follow the records through their flow. If any one
of those employees had done the same thing, the odds are that the results would
have been the same.
The analyst is apt to alienate the employees if he or she grabs the credit
for these discoveries. If this prompts the analyst to proceed with the entire
redesign of the procedure without the help of the employees, he or she will be
cut off from hundreds of finer details, any one of which could seriously compromise
Taking credit for these early discoveries can also alienate employees even
if they are invited into the improvement activity. For instance, it is not uncommon
for an analyst who is about to go over a new process chart with a group of users
to start by telling them about the discoveries made while preparing the chart.
This can appear very innocent, but the fact is, the analyst does this in order
to get the credit for the discoveries before the team members spot them. Instinctively,
the analyst knows that as soon as the employees see the chart those discoveries
will be obvious to them as well.
An analyst who realizes that the enthusiastic involvement of the team members
is much more important than the credit for one idea or another will want to keep
quiet about early discoveries until after the employees get a chance to study
the chart. In doing this the analyst positions himself or herself to provide professional
support to knowledgeable employees. Soon they make these obvious discoveries for
themselves and this encourages them to become involved and excited about the project.
It makes it theirs. In the end the analyst shares the credit for a successful
project, rather than grabbing the credit for the first few ideas in a project
that fails for lack of support.
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