Recently I have been suffering from a rather painful shoulder, the annoying and yet good thing about it is that it does not hurt all the time and when it does it only really hurts when I make certain movements, however the type of movement can vary, making it very difficult to predict exactly when the searing pain will kick in.

Last week I was talking to my doctor about it and how the X-ray and echo taken by the specialist at my local hospital didn’t show up very much wrong.  My doctor, who knows about these things, made a comparison between my painful shoulder, the echo, the X-ray, and adjusting the brakes of a bicycle. He pointed out that the problem of the echo and the X-ray is that they only show the specialist a still image, making a detailed diagnosis is therefore rather difficult.  It would be more a matter of good luck if it happened to show up much at all. “It’s a bit like a bicycle wheel” he said “you can adjust the brakes perfectly, making sure that there is exactly the right amount of space between the rim of the wheel and the blocks but it is not until you spin the wheel that you will see if they are perfectly adjusted.”

This got me thinking. Very often when we set about optimizing business processes we spend a lot of time looking at diagrams and discussing procedures with experts that we tend to sometimes forget to look at exactly what is happening in reality. Not just at a given moment in time but over several hours, days, weeks or months. I am sure this can be the reason why often a business process optimization fails to deliver anywhere near the improvement we expect.  What’s more, just like my shoulder, if you ask me how it is on a good day, you’ll get a very different answer than when I happen to make a sudden movement and the pain unexpectedly kicks in, then you might hear some language that you might not expect from me!

Have a good week,