C. Myblog

Don’t Take This Wrong: Being Lazy Is Not The Same As Being Efficient

June 26, 2014

A common process improvement tactic is to take a thorough look at current processes and analyze them for non-value add (NVA) activities. NVA activities usually meet one or more of the following criteria (all other activities are value-add):

  • The activity has no customers, internal or external
  • Customers/members are not willing to pay for it
  • The activity is not required for financial, regulatory or other business reasons

What is sometimes lost in this process is looking with an objective eye to see if a process is missing a step that could turn out to be a value-add for the credit union. It is a counter-intuitive thought—why would you add steps to your process when process improvement usually means eliminating or refining steps?

The truth is, process improvement is designed to add value and eliminate waste. It is feasible that adding or reintroducing steps to a process may add value, and therefore would be an important addition to make. Sometimes human nature takes over and people stop doing important things they used to, or skip steps due to familiarity, and a process becomes slack over time because unintentional laziness has set in. What they don’t realize is that making up those steps later usually takes more time than if it was done in the first place, or not doing something at all has cost the credit union opportunities for income.


  • A loan originator skips the step of checking for cross-sell opportunities when helping members because they think the member probably wants to finish the discussion quickly
  • During an in-branch transaction, a member queries their teller about credit cards to see if they are “good here” and the teller simply replies “yes” because the teller doesn’t want the member to feel like they are trying to sell them something
  • A non-member calls to say they are moving to the area and are thinking of transferring their banking to the credit union. Instead of asking them if they’d like to be a member, or if the credit union can have their contact information to follow up with them later, the call center refers the member to the credit union’s website for more information (keep in mind the non-member called in to verbally speak with someone and the call center referred them to a non-verbal resource)
  • An agreement is not made on how best to contact a member if any follow up is needed to close a mortgage loan, leaving the credit union scrambling to get in touch with someone when the need actually arises

Is it possible that the staff at your credit union has let processes go, or is avoiding them for their own “good” reasons?

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