So, are you a DRIFTer?

Creating the perfect output every single time in the highly complicated job environment may not be as impossible as it sounds

“Do it right the first time” or DRIFT is a concept that got introduced into the business lexicon from the manufacturing industry in the 1980s.  The concept refers to setting up processes and systems in such a way that the distribution receives goods from production just once but without errors.

Psychologists and visionaries have closely looked at the theory to understand ways by which an individual can implement this to their daily work. John Wooden a Hall of Fame basketball player and coach famously quoted, “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”

DRIFT can potentially reduce the cost of production by eliminating the need for carrying excessive inventory or the need to manage customer returns. The concept is simple—whatever comes into production has zero probability of error. In other words, whatever, goes out of the assembly line is done right the first time.

Time and motion experiments reveal that the cumulative time required for executing projects by applying DRIFT principles are much lower compared to conventional techniques.  It is not hard to imagine how life becomes easier for someone who develops the aptitude to do things right at the first go. A professional who churns around the perfect output time and again enjoys greater confidence and trust among managers and colleagues. He or she is better able to manage time and is more engaged with his or her work.

The cost of rework includes not just additional time and effort but also the risk of losing brand equity.  So how does one apply the principle of DRIFT to their daily work? Experts recommend that an individual needs to shed some conventional mind-sets in order to become a DRIFTer.

I do not have time to think about it

As an intensive and highly technical quality control exercise, DRIFT needs significant investment of time and effort to put together systems, processes, and controls to ensure zero error output at the first go.  Individuals and organizations often fail to see that though it involves investing time initially, the returns are high and long-lasting.  The starting point of becoming a DRIFTer is by shedding the barrier of reluctance.

DRIFT does not apply to my job

While a manufacturing concept, the concepts of DRIFT can be applied to every job, every role, and every industry. Research indicates that the most common uses of DRIFT principles outside the manufacturing industry are among professionals in the software, home improvement, and auto repair industry.  There is no evidence to suggest that the concept does not apply to other industries.

I need to employ a consultant

No one knows your job or how you work better than you! It is extremely important for a professional to break down his job into activities and map them to his or her potential failure points.  While the job activity breakdown for two professionals in the same role might look fairly similar, the failure points are really dependant on the individual’s work strengths and weaknesses and therefore unique.

It CAN be done right the first time

No self-improvement plan can work out perfectly the first time, and neither will DRIFT. Unless one works in an assembly line with a fixed set of activities and output expectations, one needs to be persistent with his efforts to find out better ways of doing things right.

The globally renowned author and management thinker Atul Gawande argues that every professional can develop the capability to do things with “no-error” efficiency. Gawande recommends a simple tactical starting point in one’s efforts to become DRIFT compliant— a checklist!

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