For a lunch meeting today, I went and picked up some Mexican food. The customer in front of me was confused about his order because it wasn’t what he ordered. So, what happened?
It turns out that he ordered a “Special #1”. But, the cashier thought the customer ordered “#1”. I know what you’re thinking: What’s the difference? This was a perfect problem for a quick 5 Whys.
Big in fact. In terms of money, there was a $2.00 difference. But the “#1” meal has a Chimichanga, Rice, and Beans. The “Special #1” has 4 Taquitos, 1 Bean Burrito, and a Drink.
5 Whys on Mexican Food
- Why did the customer receive the wrong order? Because cashier prepared a “#1” instead of a “Special #1”.
- Why did the cashier prepare a “#1” instead of a “Special #1”? Because there are two “#1” meals.
- Root Cause: The cashier prepared the wrong meal (meal switcheroo) because the menu has two “#1” meals available to be ordered.
It’s The Customer’s Fault
The worst part about this seemingly small incident is that this is not the first time it has happened. I asked the cashier if “#1” gets mixed-up often and she said:
Customers order the wrong thing all the time
Without judgment, I asked her why she thinks that’s the case. She said:
People do not read the menu carefully
I then asked her to consider the use of “#1” and asked her if that might be confusing. She said,
I chose to move on, made my order, and I hope our short Socratic dialogue would be helpful to her as more switcheroo’s happen.
It’s Not The Customer’s Fault
Here’s the worst part: the customer apologized for ordering “the wrong” order and the cashier said:
You ordered the wrong order.
I asked the customer how he felt and he said:
I feel dumb.
Placing Blame, Unresolved Problems
Yes, finger pointing or placing blame might help us to feel better but it doesn’t solve anything. Indeed, it probably makes the problem worse. That’s why in Lean Thinking we take the focus away from people, and focus on systems, processes with this assumption:
People are basically good. Humans make mistakes because our processes and systems encourage humans to do the wrong thing AND/OR our processes and systems do not prevent mistakes from happening
This was clearly not the customer’s fault. Yet, the cashier was quick to point out that “people don’t read the menu” and that “the customer ordered the wrong thing.”
It’s Your Turn
Have you experienced something like this? Does placing blame or pointing fingers every do any good or solve problems? How would you have handled this situation? Have you seen other uses of poor visual management? Would the use of 5S be applicable here? If so, how?