Lean disciples know that, in addition to eliminating unnecessary process steps, it is also important to create the right sequence of value-adding steps. Having the right steps in the wrong order can be just as bad as including wrong steps.
I was reminded of this during my recent vacation when, on two separate occasions, I rented cars.
Reserving a car online is a fairly simple, straightforward process, which can be completed through almost any travel website. You specify when and where you will pick up and drop off the vehicle, and you indicate what type of vehicle you want (i.e., mid-size car, full-size SUV, etc.).
But when you actually pick up the car, you are asked additional questions. Do you accept or decline insurance from the rental company? Will you return the car with a full tank, or pay the rental company to fill it?
Why can’t those questions also be asked online, at the start of the process? It would save time at the airport. (And believe me, after a long flight, every minute you spend standing at the rental counter, waiting to get started on your actual vacation, is frustrating. It’s even worse when you encounter a rental agent with a bad attitude, but don’t get me started on that.)
The car-rental companies have done a pretty good job of making the return of a vehicle a fast, painless process. (You drive in, an agent with a handheld device walks up to you, looks at the car, asks a few questions and prints out your receipt.) The same is not true when it comes to picking up the car.
Does anyone else feel the same way?