Jim Benson is best known for his seminal work, Personal Kanban. Our conversation tomorrow centers on his new work, Why Limit WIP: We are Drowning in Work (MemeMachine Series) (Volume 2). This is an excerpt from one of my favorite podcast (Related Podcast and Transcription: Quality & Collaboration = Quallaboration
An excerpt from the past podcast:
Joe: I like the way you said that: you supplied the visual aspect that maybe they didn’t have before, is that a fair assumption?
Jim: Well, not only the visual aspect but the permission to do a few key things. One is the permission to effectively complain. Previously, they felt like, “OK, I have this complaint and I’m going to go talk to somebody about it but when I do they’re just going to say that’s nice, and send me back to my desk.” Now the reason that that was happening was the person they were complaining to was sending back to their desks with, “Go back to your desk and bring me back proof.” To the complainer, that felt like they were being written off. But to the person that they were complaining to, they’re like, “I can’t, I can’t solve your problem if I don’t have a well-rounded idea of what that problem is.
The visualization helped them do that, helped them make that argument. It also allowed them to make that argument in the first place. The other thing was permission and respect to make immediate changes on the floor.
So whether it’s visualized or not, if they get together with their team and they think that something is going to make things better, their solution doesn’t greatly disrupt the operations of the company. So, for example, they could not say, “We think a hot tub in the middle of this room would make things better.” They can say, “We think that if we rearrange how we are answering phones slightly, that might make things better.”
They can do the latter then the third better permission there is to help your friends. So before, when it was every man for himself, if somebody else ran into problems or if somebody else pulled a task or a client that somebody knew something about, they’re just like, “Oh, I hope they do a good job with that.” But now, we’re actively encouraging them to stand up, walk over, sit down and actually pair with them or even just offer a small advice to move that ticket along more quickly and make sure that that trouble ticket, when it’s resolved, doesn’t come back again.
Joe: If someone was spending too long on the phone or was just struggling a little bit, they could kind of put a yellow light on, and someone would come over and help them?
Jim: There is that but then also setting policies. So if you get a call and it’s something that you don’t know anything about, you have a couple of choices. One is you can find somebody who does and then bring them onto the call with you. The second is you can transfer it to somebody else. The third is you can say, “One of us will call you back.” End the call, go on to a call you can do something about and then add that call with notation back into the call queue so that somebody can pick it up next time who does have experience.
What tends to happen otherwise is, the person will sit on the phone for a very long time trying to slog through the problem while they’re sitting on the phone for two or three hours trying to slog through this problem while there’s a large number of five or ten minute calls that have all bounced off and become tickets that somebody needs to pull in the future that they could have solved during that.
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