One thing I find about being a BA is that I can’t switch the analysis off. I am forever analysing situations and interactions, well outside of the “day job”. I suspect many of us have this trait, and it may well be at least mildly irritating to those around us. 🙂
I recently went into “analysis mode” having checked into a hotel, exhausted after running a workshop. I went to put my clothes in the wardrobe, and I noticed two all-too-common minor irritations that regular travels will recognise:
- There were fewer hangers than I needed
- The hangers were of the “anti-theft” type, where the hanging loop is permanently attached to the rail
Unfortunately, these particular hangers were old and worn, meaning that they didn’t fit well and whenever weight was applied to them (e.g. by adding a shirt) they fell to the ground. As I sighed looking at a wardrobe full of crumpled shirts now neatly scrunched into a pile on the very bottom of the wardrobe, I couldn’t help wonder why hotels use these weird hangers. Even a few ten pence wire coat-hangers would be better than this nonsense….
What’s The Actual Risk? And What Message Does It Send?
My assumption has always been that hotels use these hangers to prevent theft of coat-hangers. This initially sounds logical, until we place it under a bit more scrutiny. I am not sure that “coat-hanger theft” is a major problem in other industries and certainly I don’t hear about criminals stockpiling coat-hangers to use as illicit currency. I have no idea what the coat-hangers actually cost, but I am sure it is a minor amount compared with, say, the TV (which could also be easily stolen, if someone was really determined). In fact, the cost is probably less than the batteries in the TV remote, but you don’t see hotels welding those to the wall.
So, I am left wondering whether the perceived risk actually exists, and if it does, whether it’s probability is appropriately high to warrant the actions hotels have taken. Or are these precautions in place because “that’s what people in the industry have always done”. If that is the case, it’s ripe for challenging and a candidate for improvement. Even if it really is a risk the hotel wants to protect against, why not just place a sign saying “We hope you enjoy using our hangers, if you’d like to take one home we’ll add £x to your bill”. Perhaps that might be a friendlier solution.
After all, “anti-theft coat-hangers” send an implicit message to the customer: “we don’t trust you”. Like a bank that chains its pens to the counter (whilst also simultaneously asking you to trust it with your hard earned money) it shows an implied power imbalance and sets the tone for the relationship and the dialogue that follows. There might be very good reasons for these precautions in some situations (clearly a hire car company will want to vet its customers before letting them drive an asset worth tens of thousands of pounds), but it’s important that we scrutinise these checks and balances and symbols of distrust to ensure they are proportionate.
What This Means For Business Analysis
You might not work in a hotel, and you probably don’t work in situations that involve coat-hangers, but you probably are involved in defining and improving processes and journeys. When designing processes and journeys, we ought to think beyond efficiency and effectiveness, and also think about the message that the various steps, checks and balances send. Are we being too restrictive? Are we able to cater for the variety that exists? How will a customer, user or stakeholder feel when they are presented with a particular part of the process? Does this process align with our values and our value proposition?
It is all too easy to lose these wider, macro-level concerns when we are focussing on the detail. However, this is an area where business analysis helps a great deal. Working with our stakeholders to zoom out as well as zoom in will ensure we co-create service journeys that customers actually enjoy. And it’ll avoid those “anti-theft coat-hanger” moments. 🙂
What are your views? Please add a comment below, and let’s keep the conversation flowing!
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About the author:
Adrian Reed is Principal Consultant at Blackmetric Business Solutions, an organisation that offers Business Analysis consulting and training solutions. Adrian is a keen advocate of the analysis profession, and is constantly looking for ways of promoting the value that good analysis can bring.
To find out more about the training and consulting services offered at Blackmetric, please visit www.blackmetric.com