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Good Processes Ruined By a Bad Result

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I wouldn’t characterize myself as a germaphobe, but I would say that my tolerance for public restrooms is quite low. To me, there is nothing worse than being subjected to unkempt toilets, grungy floors, slimy sinks, and bacteria-caked doorknobs. This is particularly true since I’m forced to touch them. So why, with the increased appearances of automatic bathroom appliances, is my mind still not at ease?

As silly as it may sound, the sight of toilets flushing automatically, soap and water dispensing on its own, and the touch of hot air drying my hands without so much as a cranking handle or a silver knob is heavenly. But let’s face it: not all bathrooms have every piece of automatic equipment. In fact, I’ve experienced all sorts of appliance combinations in bathrooms. A few samples are below:

The “Almost There” Bathroom: sporting automatic toilets, sinks, and soap dispensers but old-fashioned hand dryers.

The “Ran-Out-Of-Money” Bathroom: containing automatic paper towel machines and nothing more.

The “Fancy Pants” Bathroom: a system sparing no expense in technology—including automatic toilet seat covers, lights, and air freshners.

The “Old Charmer” Bathroom: where the existence of manual toilets and sinks are overshadowed by the legendary linen towel crank and pulley system.

The “Survival-Of-The-Fittest” Bathroom: providing little more than what is absolutely necessary. In the end, clean hands, let alone running water, are virtually never an option.

Despite the obvious differences in each of these bathrooms, all of them have one thing in common: counterproductive systems.  Regardless of all the latest bells and whistles, or lack thereof, the goal for hygiene is lost the moment a patron heads for the exit. After all, I’ve seen people depart the bathroom without washing their hands. What I’ve never seen is an automatic bathroom door. Why is that?

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© Flickr user Marco Arment

I could sit and brainstorm for hours as to why such doors don’t exist. Perhaps they’re too expensive. Perhaps they pose a fire hazard. Maybe it is viewed as some sort of privacy issue Maybe the idea has simply never been pondered. Whatever the reason, the point is: results are only as good as the systems that generate them.

What makes a system successful are the steps within it. They need to be strategic in thought, fluid in action. Like puzzle pieces, they should coordinate perfectly, fitting together easily to develop and increase value. Yet, when even one step is awkward or missing, the process goal is lost. The result: an unfinished, unsuccessful product.

Like a misshaped puzzle piece, the lack of automatic doors in bathrooms diminishes the overall goal of appliance automation, which is to reduce the existence and spreading of harmful bacteria. You can have all the technology you want inside, but it can all go out the door as soon as you have to leave the bathroom. Needless to say, like many others, when faced with the  grimy public door, I opt for a shoulder nudge rather than a hand push. Who knows, perhaps one day I won’t have to contemplate such an action.

Are there systems in your office that start out in one direction, but end up with opposite results? If so, there’s a good chance that the process steps don’t fit together correctly. They may appear logical and reasonable, but inevitably, they’re nothing more than counterproductive.

If your company is having difficulty with processes, think about reaching out to our business process methodology firm. With our help, we guarantee your systems will not only fit together like a puzzle, but fit into your office like a successful, clean handshake, regardless of how your bathrooms look.

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Ashley Lee

Ashley Lee

Ashley has been working with the AccelaWork team since 2008. She is a communications expert with a background in corporate work, and a graduate of the University of Dayton with a degree in Public Relations. She lives in the greater Indianapolis area with her husband and four children. Ashley enjoys jewelry, fashion, and coffee.
Ashley Lee

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