it’s your business
By Jay Arthur
The 3-57 Rule: Employees work
on the product or service for only three
minutes out of every hour of elapsed
time. The product or service (and
customer) are waiting for something to
happen for the other 57 minutes. Most
people don’t believe this until they map
the workflow and put times on each
activity and the time between activities.
Ninety-five percent of all delay is in the
gaps between processing steps. Most
companies fail because they try to make
their employees faster; the secret is to
make your product faster.
While haste makes waste when you
focus on the three minutes employees
work on the product or service, speed
makes profit when you eliminate the 57
minutes of delay.
The 15-2-20 Rule: Every
15-minute reduction in delay will
double productivity and increase
profit margins by 20 percent, accord-
ing to George Stalk, Jr., and Thomas
M. Hout, authors of Competing
Against Time (1990). By redesigning
the workflow to eliminate delays, it’s
not unusual to reduce total time by
75 percent or more. Use a pad of
Post-it notes to diagram the process;
put times on every activity and gap;
then redesign the process to minimize delays. It’s that easy.
Simplifying and streamlining the
workflow can be done quickly with
the wisdom of employees, many of
whom have been waiting for an opportunity to tune up the flow.
Step 3: Optimize
More than likely, you usually stop
and check your order before leaving
a fast food drive thru. Why? Experience has taught you restaurants make
too many mistakes and you can’t
afford to drive back. You’ve become
an unpaid inspector in the fast food
company’s workflow, just as your
customers have become an unpaid
inspector in yours.
What is the cost of billing adjustments, discounts, rework, repeat visits
and so on? What are the return and
warrantee costs? How often does a
service need to be repeated to satisfy
a customer? Probably too often. In
most companies, one employee out
of every three is busy correcting
mistakes made by the other two. But
don’t blame the people; blame the
process because it lets the employee
make the mistake.
Once you’ve simplified and
streamlined the workflow, the next
step is to reduce the primary causes
of mistakes, errors and defects in the
product or service.
The 4-50 Rule: While most
people mistakenly believe that errors
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