Raising children is tough. The purpose of this series of blog posts is to kill two birds with one stone. On one hand you get practical childrearing advice and on the other you learn about the latest management thinking, which is super-efficient for working parents.
Over the coming months, we are going to look through a host of different areas of latest management thinking through the lens of child-raising. Topics we will cover will include:
· Design thinking
· Zero-based budgeting
· …and much more
We will kick things off with the age-old art of process re-engineering.
When you get to the nuts and bolts of successful parenting or management, processes are key. Everything can be mapped as an end-to-end process; from launching a new product to getting dirty clothes washed and put away. Not all processes are created equal. A good one delivers its intended outcome faster, cheaper and with greater consistently. If all processes are made better, the whole organisation/household is transformed.
As-is vs. to-be
Process re-engineering involves assessing the as-is process (how things currently work)and identifying the broken bits through direct observation, analysis of data and process mapping (the exercise of drawing-up the process to make it easy to see what isn’t working). You then define how the process could be improved /re-engineered to create a to-be process.
This involves lots of changes that may individually be small but collectively make a big impact. And it’s not something you do once. Ideally you create a culture of continuous improvement where everyone is always looking for opportunities to make the process better.
End-to-end parenting processes
You start by defining your core end-to-end processes to provide focus and structure. In business people talk about hire to retire and order to cash. In child rearing:
- Bath to bed
- On child to in wardrobe
- Inside house to outside house (this process can be very complex and variable and needs to consider factors like seasonality)
- Food from supermarket to nappy/toilet (yay!)/the floor/child’s bed/your bed/friend’s sofa (don't ask)
This is not an exhaustive set, but it covers a large portion of total household activity. Getting these processes nailed will have a big impact on overall household performance.
Optimisation of ‘on child to in wardrobe’ (a.k.a. washing machine hell)
After performing our own evaluation of the ‘on child to in wardrobe’ process we noted several key challenges and opportunities. Specifically:
- Fancy dress requires a delicate wash, which leads to underutilisation of the washing machine (one of the household’s critical assets) or tears and tantrums when the Princess Elsa gown starts to look a bit shoddy. We re-engineered this flow to have a strict rule that fancy-dress outfits are not allowed anywhere near food.
- Children are world-class at soiling bedding. If you, like us, have a variety of different sized beds, you will find searching for the label (probably faded and unreadable) that tells you whether a fitted bedsheet is for a king, double, single or cot is a significant source of inefficiency. We have now colour-coded our bedding: king-sized are yellow, doubles are blue, singles are pink and cots are white.
- After performing a study of clothes removal, washing basket storage, washing, hanging, folding and putting away we identified severe inefficiency due to the travel between rooms and floors at each stage. We decided to solve this by putting as much of the process as possible in a single room; storage, washing, drying, and sorting happen in the same room.
There are hundreds of potential process improvements available – just consider the pitfalls of house-to-car-to-shopping-centre process – and we would recommend that process re-engineering is a core part of your parenting tool kit.
In our next blog we will be looking at the parenting potential of zero-based budgeting.