Followup – the biggest NVA in life

Two days back I was reviewing the quality projects in flight and for one particular project, I commented to Allwyn, “please followup on that one” and then it dawned on me ….. “Follow-up is the single largest non-value added work”. I told Allwyn, followup must be 70% of all the work we do and he felt it would be much more !!!

You need to followup with the newspaper vendor to deliver the right set of newspapers and sometimes to give you the right bill… Krishnan has been following up with Club Mahindra to get a week deposited with RCI… Nisha has helped many times in following up with the credit card company… You pay an hour late and Airtel will start calling you to followup for the money :):) .. In business, you followup for collections and marquee clients refuse to pay up in time… You followup with the tailor, the carpenter, the electrician, the government, the IT department, LIC… There is even an advert about how Bharti Axa will not let you followup on your claims but will pay up quickly, …. Followup with the maid, ensure she comes tomorrow when the guests are expected. There is just no end to it.

Think of your work life. I would put the ability to followup, up there as a leadership competency. It’s truly sad though. Followup, in LEAN language is the biggest non-value added activity there is !! Imagine if everyone did what they were supposed to without followup for even one day of the week … It will be the happiest day anyone spent at work. The difference between a successful manager/leader and an unsuccessful one is often how effective one is with followup versus the other. There are other words that are in fashion – sense of ownership, accountability etc etc, but if you find an employee who doesn’t require followup, he/she is a high potential straight off.

I have an effective system of followup but I still end up missing a few … Amit has escaped doing his homework a couple of times and has one pending for the past 2.5 months :):):). Then there are some tasks that Krishnan has been following up with me to complete and I haven’t. Ofcourse Bala, has her list … The circle of followup never ends it seems. But it’s such a waste of time. Time that should ideally be spent in “doing” work is spent in “confirming” if work is being done !! I can’t think of an antidote to this really, except finding people who don’t need followup. They also go with the tag of “self motivated” individuals.

Work on reducing this NVA from work and see how productivity takes a leap… And you will suddenly have more than 24 hours in a day 🙂

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