I went to a mandatory 4-day training to learn about speed and efficiency in our work since we are trying to do so much more with less staff.
4-days of learning how to break tasks down into “moment by moment” activities that after analysis help us move faster.
Well … when you try to move assistance activities more quickly, you run the risk of sacrificing accuracy and worse … quality of work.
That’s where the following story (anonymous – no attribution as to who wrote it) comes in.
How management consultants can make a difference
Last week we took some friends out to a new restaurant and noticed that
the waiter who took our order carried a spoon in his shirt pocket.
It seemed a little strange, but I ignored it.
However, when the busboy brought out water and utensils, I noticed he also had a spoon in his shirt pocket.
Then I looked around the room and saw that all the staff had spoons in their pockets. When the waiter came back to serve our soup, I asked, "Why the spoon?"
"Well," he explained, "the restaurant's owners hired Andersen Consulting
to revamp all our processes.
After several months of statistical analysis, they concluded that the spoon was the most frequently dropped utensil. This represents a drop frequency of approximately three spoons per table per hour.
If our personnel are prepared to deal with that contingency, we can reduce the number of trips back to the kitchen and save 15 man-hours per shift."
As luck would have it, I dropped my spoon, and he was able to replace it
with his spare spoon. "I'll get another spoon next time I go to the kitchen instead of making an extra trip to get it right now."
I was rather impressed.
I also noticed that there was a very thin string hanging out of the
Looking around, I saw that all the waiters had the same string hanging from their flies. My curiosity got the better of me, and before he walked off, I asked the waiter, "Excuse me, but can you tell me why you have that string right there?"
"Oh, certainly!" he answered, lowering his voice. "Not everyone is as
observant as you. That consulting firm I mentioned also found that we
can save time in the restroom."
"How so?" I was getting more curious.
"See," he continued," by tying this string to the tip of your you-know-what, we can pull it out over the urinal without touching it and that way
eliminate the need to wash our hands when we are done, shortening the
time spent in the restroom by 76.39 percent."
"But tell me, after you are done, how do you put it back?"
"Well," he whispered, lowering his voice even further, "I don't know
about the others, but I use the spoon."