Airport Etiquette and Bad Process

Posted by Steve Castle on Feb 8, 2016 5:30:00 AM

I travel quite a lot, so I have developed a set of do’s and don’ts for at the airport check-in and etiquette while on planes. I also have a pretty comprehensive list of petty annoyances, which I update regularly.

plane manners & investment management document automation My top three check-in annoyances can include, but may not be limited to:

  1. One person with three different re-sealable bags.
  2. People who have 15 liquid items all over 100ml and no re-sealable bag, all of which are spread throughout their carry-on luggage.
  3. People who just seem to be completely unaware of where they are, or have never apparently been to an airport before.

But once you are on the plane the real fun can begin.

I happened across the list below, published by London City Airport from a passenger survey they did recently. There is a natty little info-gram that goes with the list if you wish to take a look. Here are their top three passenger complaints:

  1. Reclining their seat so far back, they are practically in your lap.
  2. Planting their elbows firmly on the armrests to leave no room for you.
  3. Being rude to cabin crew – a thank you costs nothing.

The full top 10 were pretty common annoyances, except number 8 “putting their feet in the gaps between seats, so they poke you in the shoulder” that surprised me. One they missed was the inability of individuals to sit down in their seat without pulling on the back of yours and then letting go of your seat go so abruptly, that it snaps back and forth giving you whiplash. Oh, and passing wind obviously – not nice for other passengers.

They also missed off this little rule of thumb: if you are not travelling with anyone else, never speak to anyone on the plane (except stewardess), and if you are travelling with a business companion, never sit next to them, thus invoking the first part of the rule.

So what has any of this got to do with investment management document automation?

Well not a lot really, except that if you do something on a regular basis, you end up just accepting certain frustrations as the way it is. They may annoy you, but you put up with them.

Bad process and bad workflow just tend to happen. They don’t start out that way, of course. They happen when you add something into the process, and then they get bad. The more you add in, the more your process can stray away from the optimum.

In investment management documents, a bad process usually stems from a series of tasks that are performed manually. To err is human, so manual processes breed errors. As a response to the manually introduced errors, QA checks and re-checks are introduced. The additional steps create more work and reduce the time needed to produce the final documents. Instead of solving the issue, the added steps and tightened deadlines further increase the risk of errors, which ultimately lead to another level of QA checks. And so on and so forth. Eventually, someone thinks, “We need to automate this.” Then what happens is that you actually automate the existing bad process, and you’re stuck with it.

The best way to deal with this problem isn’t to introduce yet another workflow. To fix a bad process, you have to go to the source to avoid perpetuating it in the future. Ask yourself, “Why were we doing this in the first place?” Most likely, automation will fix the underlying flaw and should be used as such.

So to finish, this has nothing to do with airplane travel, but always remember to step back and look at things with a new eye. That’s what good software does, it re-envisions, not just replicates.

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