Tuesday 3 July 2018

Changing the system to get very different results.

I’ve posted before about how small changes in the system can deliver dramatic results.  I especially like the ones where the answer isn’t where you’d expect it to be. 

One has to really study the system first:
  • what is the purpose of the operation?
  • what is the customer journey?
  • what other factors are playing out?
  • what demands are being placed on the work?

I came across a fascinating one today - one that has already significantly reduced loss of life…

A previous examples - in fact my very first blog - and I frequently re-tell the story of the bins in the fast-food store:

If you make the bin holes smaller, the tray can’t be thrown away.

Another previous example - The Lincoln Memorial issue was similar:

A small change in the system, at literally zero cost, drastically altered the outcomes.

The one I heard about today involves a story that we’ve all seen in the news over recent times - mostly in the US, frequently involving race connotations, and it’s pretty much what started The Black Lives Matter movement.

A study of the way US police officers pursue and intercept targets has shown that its the heat of the pursuit that affects decision making, potentially leading to death of the suspect.

From the BBC Inquiry podcast “Can you train people to be less prejudiced” - a change in the system of pursuit that lead to dramatic reduction in fatalities.  By taking the heat out of the situation, adding more time into the equation, and helping the officer re-assess and balance any bias they may have, has dramatically changed outcomes.

The whole podcast is worth a listen, but the key message is described from 17:01, and takes less than 2 minutes:

By changing the current ‘hot’ “foot pursuit” policy to one where they hold back, call for help, and surround the situation, the officer-involved shootings have gone down - dramatically.

And of course, there are business opportunities here too:
  • Taking the heat out of rapid decision making
  • Taking a step back and seeing the whole picture
  • Identifying potential bias situations

could lead to improved decision making and outcomes.