A few days ago I was talking to a colleague about trying to make a process work as you had imagined. His problem was that people must be “constraint” to work as the process had been thought and he was not willing to act like a policeman standing behind the people, watching them over and correcting them all the time. He hadn’t thought to constrain the process to work as had been thought!

I told him that a few months ago my wife started a small business and that I took over some of her household “activities”. One of the problems that I came up against was that my daughters (8 and 10 years old) did not want to get involved and help in the set the table – clean the table – wash the dishes process ( the process that I wanted to improve). I wondered:

  1. WHY don’t the girls “set” the table?

Answer: Because someone else does it for them!

Solution: Nobody puts them a plate and cover in front of them anymore; if they have they eat, if not they don’t. I told them the rule and they always prepared their plates.

  1. WHY don’t the girls clean the table?

Answer: Because someone else does it for them!

Solution: Nobody else cleans up after them. If they don’t clean their plates after the meal, they will find them there the next one. I told them the rule and put it to practice.

The problem with washing the dishes was the hardest to solve. But not impossible.

The girls would clean their plates, put them in the sink and leave them there. We would always have a fiery debate regarding the washing. We even wanted to do a chart with who and when must wash the dishes – I don’t think it would have worked. Then I asked myself:

  1. WHY don’t the girls wash the dishes?

Answer: Because they can!

    1. WHY can they not wash the dishes?

Answer: Because they have other clean ones!

Solution: I took out of the cupboard the “extra” plates and covers. I left 4 spoons, 4 forks, 4 knives, 4 deep plates and so forth. 4 of each. This is how I solved this problem.

In time, I saw that the girls were crowding at the cupboard to take each their plate and wait with the plate in hand while the other finished washing the dishes and one day they even settled that one would clean the table and the other would wash the dishes with changing the roles the next day. The process evolved without me influencing it all!

What I want to highlight is that applying constraints on people is time, nerve and energy-consuming and it does NOT guarantee to maintain the process! Step by step people will go back and work as they have been accustomed to. Vainly I would tell the girls to wash the dishes; when I was not there they did not wash them; I should have watched over them continuously, wasting my time and they would have become frustrated for they did not understand why they had to act like this.

If applying constraints on the PROCESS you, firstly, obtain a repeatable process (because it cannot be done otherwise) a process that can self-improve. Moreover, the people working in the process will not be frustrated that you watch them continuously and a coercive approach like “if you don’t do like this… this will happen to you” is not necessary.

How to constraint the process

For you, the one creating the process, there won’t be a continuous stress of watching over and controlling the process. If you create and apply the correct constraints on the process, this will work exactly how you wanted it to.

For example, if you don’t want on a table coffee mugs (bottles of water, oil cans, tool, etc.) you can put on a sign.

a sign will not constraint the process

Do you think it is enough to reach your goal? Who can say that the rule is followed? How many times a day? Etc.

Or you can apply a solution as follows:

table to constraint the process

A solution that does not allow you to put that coffee mug on the table! A solution that does not frustrate people and that can be taken as it is.

If you take a better look, maybe you don’t even need the table!

There are a lot of examples of constraining the process (blocking some faster operations than the process tackt-time; FIFO in the process; storing the benchmarks in the established places; etc). You must only see the problems, have a bit of creativity and some money.

So, next time when you will wonder “Why the people do not work as you thought the process?” the obvious answer is “Because they can!” After that think how to constrain the process to eliminate that possibility.

Original article: http://avoleanconsulting.ro/cum-constrangi-pentru-a-obtine-procesul-dorit/

If you are not satisfied with the company’s performance, you can reach me by phone: +40-788-786383 or via email: adrian.oprea@avoleanconsulting.ro or adrian@adrianoprea.com.

20 thoughts on “How to efficiently constraint the process”

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