Design the worst process you can think of


cardboxOne of our favorite tools is called a trizDuring a triz, we ask people to design the worst way to do anything. For example, if you were going to think of the worst possible process for cooking dinner, you'd certainly put the fridge, sink and stove in different rooms. You'd make sure to never have the right ingredients. And you would absolutely not have a recipe to follow. Pretty bad, right? When we met with Silvia and her team in Lactation Services, she told us about their process for renting breast pumps. "It's pretty broken," she confided, "and I want to fix it!"

We spent some time with Silvia, Maryanne, and Maxine. We also spoke with a new mom who had recently rented a pump. From the mom's standpoint, the process worked fine. But for the lactation team, it looked like a ballet dancer trying to breakdance. In other words, it wasn't very choreographed.

What we tried:

We brought together the A Team —finance, lactation services, treasury, and innovation. Then we asked the group to design the worst possible way to rent a breast pump. We built a journey map of our worst process.

"Well, you'd have to run forms all over the hospital, by foot..."

"And we'd do the whole process on paper, not electronic!"

"Oh, and we'd involve several people who didn't need to be involved, just to add more work to their plates."

At one point, we realized there was a critical player in our existing process who wasn't at the table. Helen, the hospital's cashier, was actually entering each charge and we didn't know anything about her steps. Mike, Sibley's Assistant CFO jumped up, ran down the hall and did an impromptu end-user interview with Helen.

We learned the breast pump rental process was essentially added work for Helen. Reducing her workload became part of our mission. How can we take things off Helen's plate? 

Well, it turned out, when you look at things through a different lens the flaws in your current process stand out. Some of those worst possible ideas were things we were actually doing. Seeing some of the steps that way helped us decide what to eliminate or re-design.


What happened:

Silvia and her team were able to combine several forms into one, more simplified form. She's also working with her finance partners to implement bed-side charge capture for the rentals - a win for everyone.

Silvia and the Lactation Services department haven't slowed down. They are looking at each step of their process and thinking, how can we make this easier for us, better for patients and financial viable? 

And...we've saved Helen 30 minutes of work off every pump rented!