Putting the cart before the horse


by Mike Lopez

This morning, I experienced my annual visit to the optometrist. The wait was 30 minutes, but that is not what I wanted to address. At the optometrist, they have a fancy machine that takes a picture of your eye. I'll call it the eyephoto. This is an expensive machine and insurance does not cover it. If you want to have the eyephoto, you have to pay $35 out of your pocket.

In order to see if you want the eyephoto, they give you a piece of paper when you walk in that has a paragraph description of the eyephoto and a place to check a box and sign if you want it done. I decided to keep my $35.

In the exam room, while waiting for the doctor, there was not much for me to do, so I was watching the screensaver on the office computer. What was it showing? It was a commercial showcasing the benefits of the eyephoto. As I watched the commercial, it occurred to me that paying the $35 might not be such a bad deal. The commercial changed my mind.

Here is an example of a badly sequenced process that does not get the customer information when the customer can use it to make a purchasing decision in your favor. It is putting the cart before the horse. I wonder what the rate of use is for the eyephoto at the optometrist. I bet it is pretty low. Wouldn't it be higher if they reversed the sequence? If I had walked into a lobby with a giant flat screen TV showing non-stop eyephoto commercials and THEN been presented with the election form, I bet I would have signed up.

Most Lean we see addresses the movement of product before or after purchase, but in this example, an appreciation of Flow creates the potential for increased revenues. There is a huge amount of value to be gained by using Lean to ensure the purchase of product.

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  1. My eye Doc has the same machine, and does have the plasma screen showing the commercial. Most people, including myself, go for the $35 (same price) test. They did have it sequenced such that I think I watched the commercial before being given the form. Also ample opportunity to sign up at any time during the visit.

    So I’d say, based on my experience, your hypothesis has a good chance of being correct.

    Hey a bonus of getting that test is that I made them agree to email me the image file before I signed. They gave me a link to an downloadable viewer that let me zoom and fiddle. Pretty geeky, but some additional value for your $35 if you like that kinda thing.


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