Monday, July 28, 2003

More on Trust in NYC

Following on the story of Ralph, I asked my daughter-in-law, Susan Ely, to comment. She’s an Industrial Engineer and has spent most of her life in and around New York City. Susan shares some keen insight on processes in the City.
After working about 5 years in the city, I never once saw what he described. The closest I saw was someone who had a pile of quarters on the counter that he would quickly push to you to make change. (I thought it weird that he left money on the counter with his back turned – a no-no in NYC.)

Again, throughput in a situation that makes use of all party members instead of just one would logically increase. Here, he is not only showing trust, but for a moment, each customer is actually participating in the "service" part of the supply chain rather than simply waiting for their change while standing and doing nothing. As the vendor is showing respect, the consumer appreciates that and misses the fact that they are free labor. However, the cost associated with time (as their service time is reduced by taking part) is definitely worth the several seconds spent "working".

What I see much more frequently in these carts is having two employees work the cart. One person handles all customer interaction (money transactions, taking the orders, etc) while the other person processes each order. Here again we see increased throughput, but the cost is whatever this helper person gets paid.

In the case you noted, the cost of increased throughput is whatever small loss he experiences due to dishonesty or bad math. I'm sure that total is much less than what the "helper" individual is paid. All for the same results.

As a person with no reports, I often optimize on resources that technically are not at my disposal. (As the cart person does with his customer.) How do I continue to cash in on "favors" and such? By being pleasant, respectful, and grateful for their help. Much like the cart guy.

Just like everyone is taught in management 101 - treat your people with respect and they will not only respect you, but work harder for you as well.

Thanks, Susan, for your perspective, as a veteran New Yorker. Your Management 101 reminder is most appropriate.

I hope this is helpful. Feel free to forward to a friend. Email me

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