What's Driving You Crazy
There are too many extra, unnecessary processes are taking up all your time.
Identifying when, where, and how many extraneous, problematic, and overly bureaucratic processes are present–and to identify what systems are causing them.
Case study featuring audits
Golden Gate Regional Center’s (GGRC) use of process maps (a form of audits) to streamline their process for giving financial support for disabled children
Saul Gardus and Elizabeth Woodsen of Golden Gate Regional Center (GGRC), a social service agency in the San Francisco Bay Area, used process maps to capture the gauntlet imposed on prospective clients. Interviews by Saul and Elizabeth revealed that, to get services and financial support for disabled children, the journey the GGRC bureaucracy imposed on their parents and guardians was unpredictable, frustrating, demeaning, and dragged on and on. Individual staffers didn’t feel clients’ pain because, from their perspective, no single stage in this assessment process felt broken. But when clients described what happened to them at and in-between each stage (“waiting,” “still waiting,” “call unanswered”) and how they felt (“frustrated,” “invisible,” “helpless.), it was clear to Saul and Elizabeth that there were big opportunities for improvement–especially in hand-offs between staff who performed different functions. This grueling process of securing the aid rarely took less than three months, and many parents felt so defeated by it all that they just gave up. In response to this audit, GGRC formed a team to improve the steps in this assessment process. They’ve made dozens of small improvements to break down barriers between roles and silos, made it easier for clients to communicate with staff members, and–while they are not there yet–are making progress toward their goal of processing each application in less than 45 days.
How to use Audits
The “meeting audit” is a technique coined by the Stanford D School. Once the meeting that is to be audited is identified the following should be taken:
- choose 4 standard measures and design 2 more
- create your tally sheet
- assign roles between you and a partner
- audit meeting, calculate results and review.
Termed by Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein, methods for cataloging the costs of “excessive or unjustified friction” to guide decisions about “when and how to reduce it”. These can be conducted using the following three steps:
- Implement “lookbacks” at existing burdens to see if the current “stock” can be justified and to eliminate those that seem outmoded, pointless, or too costly.
- Choose “the least burdensome method” for achieving organizational goals.
- Ensure that “the benefits of administrative burdens justify the costs”
Ask employees or customers to create flow-charts that track the movement of work throughout a system, and are useful for identifying places, people, and routines that slow things down, cause bottlenecks, damage quality, and exasperate employees and clients.