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Interfaces: The Ways We Work Together

So, there I was in the Arby's drive through lane. My radio was on, and the heater was blasting. My wife loves Arby's, and let's just say it is not the fast food restaurant I prefer. One day, she asked me to go to Arby's to get her Jalapeno Poppers and a Dr. Pepper. As I was ordering, I had a hard time hearing since the intercom was full of static. I figured, I had such a small order there would be no way they would get it wrong. I drove up to the window, and they handed me my order. 

As I drove off, I realized they did not give me a drink. I thought the order must have been wrong and so I drove back to correct it. Looking at my receipt, I saw the order was for chicken fingers. I had ordered a Dr. Pepper and Jalapeno Popper, so now I am wondering how I ended up with Chicken fingers. I went inside and after 15 minutes we resolved the discrepancy and I finally got what I ordered.

This is the Chaos Interface.

I was in chaos while I ordered, and the store had their own chaos in taking the order. For us both to get what we wanted out of the situation, it required additional effort, time and clarity as we sorted through our chaos. All of which, could have been avoided if we had not been in chaos. When we are not intentional while working with others, the chaos interface is the one we tend to fall into. 

Now, one of my favorite fast food restaurants is Chick-Fil-A. They have great food, service and ordering processes. 

When I go, I ask for the Spicy Chicken Sandwich with pepper jack and no pickles. While ordering, they ask me if I want the meal or just the sandwich. I let them know I would like the meal. They then ask me what I would like to drink, and I say I want a Coke. They then ask me if there are any condiments I would like with my meal, and I say Buffalo sauce. They let me how much my order will cost, and I proceed towards the payment window. 

This is the Filter Interface.

Chick-Fil-A has a process and regardless of my awareness or understanding of it, they lead me through it. They take me from my temporary state of chaos and put me into their state of order. In this transition, I choose to yield to their ordering process for a temporary amount of time so I can get my food. The filter interface is where one party has a clear process and they lead a guest through it. 

Now, after going to Chick-Fil-A regularly, I have learned their process. I know how they are going to take my order and it allows me to pro-actively give them the results their process generates. So now when I order, I say I would like a #3 with pepper jack cheese and no pickle. I will make it a meal with a coke. I would like Buffalo sauce and that will be all for my order. I say "thank you", and they say "my pleasure". I then begin driving towards the payment window.

This is the Direct Interface. 

The direct interface is when both parties are using the same process and definitions of words. When we operate in the direct interface we are exponentially more productive as the result of eliminated waste. 

The beauty of this productivity is not the time we save, but the time we can now use in building relationships with our team and clients. I believe we ought to be more productive at our work so we can give more time to people.

In your work, what interface do you operate in?
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