Sunday, April 29, 2012

Plan to Actual, with chocolate icing

On my way to work recently, I stopped by the bakery of our local grocery store to buy a celebratory-looking cupcake.  While making my choice, I spotted this sign on the counter. 

Plan to Actual.  With a was out there for all the customers to see. 

And I was surprised.  Why was the target so low?  And why was neither the store nor the bakery department hitting the goal?   And how did they get these numbers in the first place?   This is a well-run store and the bakery department in particular is very good...I've ordered any number of specialty cakes over the years and they always do a terrific job. 

"So how can I improve your score?" I asked.  The manager smiled, thanked me for noticing and told me I could find a link on the bottom of my receipt where I could give voice to my satisfaction. 

So I did.

And I figured out why the score was so low.

I went to the site indicated at the bottom of my purchase receipt and found:

  • A requirement to enter data from the receipt which was not so labeled on the receipt.  I took a guess and got in. This took a couple of minutes
  • The survey was long, at least 5 screens worth. I skipped a couple of questions and got an error message demanding me to go back and answer all the questions. 
  • Only deep into the survey did they ask about the actual bakery.  
  • Almost 8 minutes later, I finished the survey and then got this screen message:

Bummer.  All that work and it didn't even take.  I was a very satisfied customer.  And I couldn't make a clear, simple statement to the store of that fact.  And how did the store take 5 screens of data and boil it down to a single metric?  Did anyone know?  Did the bakery staff know?  Why was the bakery's score "47%"?  Percent of what??   I was willing and anxious to help bump up that score but was unable.


It's a good thing, a very good thing, to have visual, transparent tools.  It's a horrible thing, a very horrible thing, to have the method of making those measurements disconnected from the display.

Could my customers figure out a way to bump our score?  Can my employees figure out how to help our visually-communicated metrics?

Can yours?

Be aligned.

PS.  What was the celebration about?  The three of us die-hard baseball fans at our shop had a small ceremony to sing Happy Birthday on the 100th anniversary of baseball in Boston's venerable Fenway Park.  Yeah, we really sang.  Yaz would be proud.

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Chet Frame said...

Thank you, Joe.

My Great Uncle Henry took me to Fenway 61 years ago for the first time. I was at what was to have been Yaz's last game, six rows behind home plate. They were playing Baltimore and it got rained out in the fourth. We got rain checks, changed our plans, and sat the next afternoon and evening watching 19 innings of baseball. Yaz had a couple of homers to go out with style.

Chet Frame said...

Joe, I ran across this post. I don't know if you will be interested, but it made me think of you and "Learning About Lean."

Joe said...

Chet, a very good idea...quite a post that guy put together.

Now for some PDCA on those principles!!

Thank you!

John Hunter said...

This is the type of IT "solution" that makes everyone know IT is useless. It is so sad managers accept such things from IT.

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