The other day, I spent some time with a group within fulfillment and distribution. In speaking with a few of the members of that group, I realized that our process is roughly the same process for admitting patients in an emergency room. Then, it dawned on me.
Same Process, Different Context. And, Context is Everything.
On the one hand, we were dealing with a receiving function in a fulfillment and distribution center context. On the other hand, we’re talking about receiving patients into an emergency room setting. Because I have prior experience in continuous improvement in healthcare, I saw the relationship.
What’s the Difference?
Receiving in Fulfillment is about receiving inventory items – stuff. Patient admission is about receiving human beings. But, the same steps are involved:
- Who are You? (What are you?)
- What are you identified by? (What is your unique code?)
- What are you described by? Color? Size? Quantity? (What are your symptoms? How long have you had them? I need your vital signs.)
The big difference is context: Humans versus Things. And, context makes a big difference. We make a mistake with things, then downstream we might make a mistake on an order. Relatively low risk.
We make a mistake with Humans, people get hurt. They might even die.
What about your process?
If you thought about your process from a different context, do you see it differently? Do you see opportunities where there were none? Can you look at something old, but find something new?