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‘Tell me where it hurts’


The first words a Doctor asks a Patient in order to quickly diagnose the problem. Those of us working in Continuous Improvement would do well do heed that advice.

And yet, all too often improvement initiatives are kicked-off with the scantest time invested in understanding the pain-points experienced by our staff. You know…those people in our organizations that ‘work the process’ and spend the most time corresponding with our end customers.

We have already written about the benefit to be gleaned by Leaders when simply observing their staff work through processes. Here however, we want to make a case for another low-tech approach that yields benefit.

As Jennifer Moss put it in the HBR: ‘Employees may not have the perfect silver-bullet solution, but they can most certainly tell us what isn’t working — and that is often the most invaluable data.’

We are not advocating out-sourcing the solution to the workforce, but instead encouraging you to give your operations teams a voice. The benefits are substantial:

  1. Well-directed initiatives — these staff members live and breathe operations, they deal with customers every day. By soliciting their feedback, frustrations and recommendations you should have confidence that you’re getting to the heart of a beefy issue.
  2. You’ll generate buy-in easily — and you’ll be thankful you did once you get to solution mode!
  3. A win for staff engagement — we know how important recognition is to team engagement. People appreciate knowing their feedback is valued.

So next time try this out. Start small by working with a ‘friendly’ leader and have a session with their team. It should revolve around one simple question: ‘If we had unlimited budget, what are the first 3 things we should fix in your team?’

From there you’ll need to validate and size the issues before you go any further but at the very least, you’ll walk away with greater knowledge of a particular function or process. And just as importantly, the staff will walk away feeling a little happier about their place in the organization.

So what does this have to do with Bramble?

Bramble’s workforce management system solves a multitude of operational problems. Providing your staff with a mechanism to capture and quantify the Friction they encounter each day (like the one in the Bramble platform) means that any obstacles/frustrations/waste they identify, can be systematically sized.

Through Bramble your staff have a platform to identify and quantify the Friction they encounter. Any obstacles, frustrations or waste that frontline staff members can be systematically sized.

Not only does this function provide agency for frontline staff, it also provides you (the Continuous Improvement/Transformation expert) with valuable insight — directing you to pain-points, and sketching out half your business case for improvement by sizing the issue and its’ impact on resourcing.