Saturday, February 27, 2010

In Awe of Process Excellence

At some point, I may find things like this boring.  But I have no idea when that might happen.  Look at what is possible, just due to process excellence. 

I have a personal project coming up which requires a small, portable digital camera.  The project will take place outdoors, however, in some rough territory and the probability of losing, dropping or soaking the camera is sizable.  So I didn't want to invest much.  I looked at low-cost cameras in a discount store but they didn't quite fill the bill.  I then thought to try eBay...could I find a low-cost, used camera to fill the bill? 

Last Sunday night, I looked at several auctions and found a 3-year-old Nikon L3, 5MP camera with some cosmetic defects which fit my requirements perfectly.  The bid price of $8.50 only added to my interest.  With 7 minutes left on the auction I put in a maximum bid of $15 and headed out the door to a previous commitment.  I got home, and found I got the camera for $12.00; with shipping, my total cost was a mere $25.  All of which happened in about 10 minutes of my time on line. 

And it got better. 

  • On Monday morning, the seller shipped the camera to me
  • He gave me a tracking number with the USPS
  • The Postal Service sent me an email at each transition of the package through it's system
  • On Wednesday, I received the camera.
  • On Thursday, I picked up a 1GB memory card for $10, along with some milk and cereal, at a neighborhood store. 

I was set for a mere $35.   

Think of the processes which delivered just what I needed, right when I wanted it.

  • eBay has a market allowing buyers and sellers to connect efficiently
  • The Postal Service tracks packages and makes it public
  • The supply chain delivers a gigabyte memory card for the price of a quarter tank of gas.
 Each of these happened due to effort to pull waste out of the process.  The efficiency of it all was amazing.  

The challenge to us?  How many of the processes which my customers see move as smoothly??  How many act on what the customer wants with this level of precision? 

No room for arrogance for most of us.  

Keep on learning.