Monday, September 18, 2006


I wrote a long piece about our tills, working myself up into a fine old state in the process and then failed utterly to make the point I was aiming for all along.

Our all too human operators make mistakes.

Yes it is shocking, but it is true. And in response to every single heaving, sighing, pointedly looking at the watch and tut-tutting customer who's ever held up because of an operator I do, I admit, come over all Religious.

You might not have expected this of me, but its true. For somewhere in the Good Book there is a line about the casting of the first stone being the prerogative of he (or She, I've seen the Life of Brian) who is without Sin.

Our operators cannot undo anything on the tills. So an item that inadvertently scans twice be removed from the transaction but that requires someone with 'manager key' so a supervisor must be called.

Our operators cannot put through certain of the vouchers we accept and again a supervisor must be called.

Our operators cannot manually enter an item that will not scan (see earlier post) even when the item is price marked.

Our operators cannot enter vouchers over a certain value but must instead call for a supervisor to enter the amount.

So on the one hand we don't have individual till boxes or floats which would focus the minds of operators quite wonderfully; but on the other hand we don't trust our operators to do even the simplest thing on their own.

This is symptomatic of something that's gnawing away at me which is the failure of large scale entities to actually run businesses effectively and efficiently. The distance from board room to shop floor is unbridgeable. There is no prospect of realistic decision making or direction flowing from top to bottom (or centre to periphery), there is no burden of responsibiliy, and therefore the majoriy feel no sense of responsibilty.

Without at sense of responsibilty there is no engagement, and it cannot be suprising that we flounder with the consequences every day, in mis-pricing, mis-placement, rudeness, idleness and all the other symptoms of what might be called a demotivated work force - were it not for the fact that they in all probability never were motivated to begin with.


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