Are Cell Phones Causing Process Delays?

It’s the beginning of a new year.  OK so we are almost two months into the year.  Being the start of the new year, it means checkup time for me.  Dental checkup, physical and any other routine checks to be sure I am still healthy…preventive maintenance for the body if you will.

Needless to say, I have been spending a lot of time in waiting rooms at the doctors’ offices.  Usually, the first thing I do is get out my smartphone and start reading updates from blogs or checking email.  Then at my last doctor’s appointment I noticed a receptionist.  She looked in the direction of a person who was on their smartphone playing a game or reading.  I’m not sure.  She started to say something then stopped.  Saw the other receptionist wasn’t busy and started talking to her.  After 3 or 4 minutes she called the person that was on the smartphone over for some questions.

That got me thinking about delays.  Before smartphones, a person was lucky to have a magazine in a waiting area to read or even a TV with looping with the same news over and over again.  People found this to be a painful way to be spending their time.  Time that could have been used running errands or doing something enjoyable.  Now people have a way to stay connected and do things that pass the time in a way each individual finds enjoyable.  Whether it be reading a blog, playing Angry Birds, or even watching a video on our smartphones.

Because of this, are people becoming blind to delays and the amount of time they sit and wait?   Do service providers take extra time or delay because they know people are preoccupied with their smartphones?

I like to think not, but after what I saw at the doctor’s office maybe in some cases it is.  Maybe a mechanic takes a little extra time in returning the keys after the repair because a person is preoccupied?  Maybe the DMV is even slower in their responses knowing people are looking at smartphones?

It may only be a few minutes here and a few minutes there but I know I have witnessed it at least once.  Plus, on several occasions I can recall getting lost in my smartphone and before I knew it 40 minutes or so has passed.  When I realize it I have gone up to ask what is going on and within a minute or two I am taken care of.  Why wasn’t I taken care of earlier?  I know my timing isn’t always that good.

The delay may not be a conscious decision but I believe it is happening.  Would you consider this a waste of your time?  Or is the smartphone helping you to multitask so you are doing work in parallel?  What do you think?

Posted on February 23, 2012, in Culture, People, Waste and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. At a broad level, anything that makes the waste harder to see makes it harder to fix. If I fill the time with something else less wasteful, I don’t notice the true waste as much, just like using the smartphone waiting for the doctor.

    In a business process, we don’t notice delays because we just move on to other work when we’re waiting, and so that delay remains invisible.

    In businesses where material can get reworked, that failure rate often remains invisible because we didn’t have to throw away the material, even though we had to process it twice.

    The real trick is how to balance not experiencing the full level of the waste, while making sure the waste remains visible. You can’t fix what you can’t see.

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