If you have ever spent the time to analyze your company's process efficiency or workflow, you know how large and ongoing the program can be. Whether you are fine tuning a world-class corporation or just beginning to clean up a dysfunctional organization you are typically looking for the largest of problems to tackle first. Where can you get the most bang for the buck? With typically limited time and resources, you must always start with sweeping results and not get bogged down in minutia. The company that is just starting out and may not be used to being efficient can be excused from many process faux pas but what about a national chain of stores? You would expect them to be well-managed and on top of their game - wouldn't you?

     I recently went into a brand new Tim Horton's for lunch. Nice place, state of the art equipment, modern tile-work on the walls, fireplace, and ten employees. Ten? But they have the Cold-stone Creamery to cover inside there too, don't they? Yes. But I was the only customer. Not even a drive through patron. Maybe they were training? Since the employee that took my order was new and didn't understand the system, that could have been the case... except that she was left by herself to figure things out. Instead of leaving with my food I sat and ate there, alone, observing, trying to come up with an answer on how they could be that poorly managed. Some were socializing, a couple swept and re-swept the same patch of floor for several minutes, and others did, well nothing. 

     With no clear answer in sight, I finished up and went back to work, leaving no patrons behind. In most other industries eveyone involved is very busy and could certainly use more manpower. I feel good about the regular process improvements that we make at our company but can't get out of my head how others can survive with fundamentally poor management. With labor accounting for most of a company's major expense, Tim Horton's must be able to leverage their lower paid staffing costs to cover any gaps in efficiency. How else can they possibly expect to maintain that number of employees?