Mistake Proof Paperwork

Improvement Insights Blog

Mistake Proof Paperwork

On a recent vacation, my wife and I missed two connecting flights because of missing paperwork. It’s the 21st century. How much of your customer’s time are you wasting looking for paperwork?

“Hi, I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma For Hospitals” and the QI Macros [software].

“My wife and I finally took a trip we were going to take to Europe in 2020; we took it this year. We got off at the airport and of course, our airplane was late arriving. We had a pretty tight connection in Frankfurt, Germany. Anyway, United loads us all in the plane and the pilot came on and said, “We’re waiting for the manifest so that we can fly to Germany, because without the manifest we can’t land there.” You know, it’s a piece of paper, right? Some paper of a manifest. I have to wonder why we’re using paper manifests in the 21st century. Is that just legacy of stupidity from the last century?

“Anyway, we were sitting there and sitting there and sitting there, and the pilot said, “Well, if they don’t get here shortly, we’re going to have to de-plane because the crew would ‘time out’ in the flight.” I’m thinking, “Come on guys, you do this all the time. You should have this mistake-proofed out the yin yang!” Right? This should be a no-brainer. But no.

“We did get to Frankfurt but we missed our flight. (Actually, we got to the flight but United had rebooked us on a later flight so we couldn’t get on the flight we [made it in time to]. This is like dumb, all right?)

“Anyway, then we were returning from Venice and guess what? The flight was delayed because of weather and then we were waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting… guess what we were waiting for? A paper manifest to fly into Germany! Again! It’s like, “Come on, guys. This is something you should know how to do and never, ever fail at, you know?”

“I still don’t understand why in the 21st century we’re not sending electronic documents, right? [Electronic] manifests, because that seems like that would be a faster way to do it.

“I want you to get this idea that sometimes these delays are irrational. They should have been solved by now. It should be impossible for the paperwork not to make it on the plane.

“That’s my Improvement Insight for this week: Look around at the idiot stupid things that your company does. “We must have paper, we must have signatures, we…” Shut up! Come on! 21st century! You can sign documents electronically, all right?

“So that’s my Improvement Insight: Stop doing stupid stuff. Mistake proof the things that are causing delays, making people late. In Munich when we got there, of course, we couldn’t get on our flight because we were late. We had to spend the night, which cost Lufthansa some money. Dumb. This is dumb, all right?

“So that’s my Improvement Insight. Let’s go out and improve something this week.”

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