Wednesday, August 27, 2008
|If you followed the Olympics (Didn't everyone?), then perhaps like mine, your heart sank when you watched both the women's and men's 4X100 relay teams drop the baton. Heart sinking was my first reaction, quickly followed by empathy for the athletes who had worked so hard to be there. Finally, I found myself asking in wonder, tinged with anger, “How could that have happened? Didn’t they practice enough?” I felt let down and disappointed.
So what does this have to do with running a business? As a customer, have you ever felt like a dropped baton? Somehow you’ve fallen through the cracks, or you keep getting bounced around from one person to another, or have been forgotten altogether.
In most businesses, “hand-offs” between departments and people are necessary to serve the customer or manufacture the product. These hand-offs are equivalent to a baton pass. A baton pass in business could be as simple as transferring a customer call from the receptionist to accounting, or as complex as handing off custom design specs to production. How well your company handles these baton passes will contribute to your customers’ overall satisfaction and the cost effectiveness of your processes. In other words, they will be a major factor in your company’s success.
In relay teams, each team member expects the others to do their part well and to meet a specific standard of time. They don’t necessarily practice their individual sprints together. What they do practice together is the baton pass between team members. Each member understands how best to hand off to the next person to create the best chance of success. Standards are set for performance of the baton pass and if one member drops the baton, the entire team loses.
In your business, do you know how many baton passes occur to serve the customer or produce your product? Can you streamline and cut down on that number? Do you have performance standards for each hand-off and do you train on and practice each of them?