When he cites “broken button” as a concept, it makes me think of the “easy button” Staples likes to identify itself with:

What do you do when your systems break?

If you want to enrage customers, just sit idle while they rage against a broken system at your organization.

Someone shipped me a package from Indiana more than two weeks ago. UPS shipped it to my old address, mis-sorted it, shipped it back to Indiana, mis-sorted it before returning it, shipped it back to NY, mis-sorted it, shipped it back to Indiana, mis-sorted it, shipped it back to NY (I’m not making this up and I’m not exaggerating) and yes, it’s now on it’s way back to Indiana. Maybe.

There have been a dozen phone calls by the shipper and myself to UPS. And every time, the agent and the supervisor insist that there is nothing they can do and that all the correct buttons have been pushed. When pressed, they acknowledge that something appears broken, but “my hands are tied.”

Stuff happens in every organization that has a system. You can’t eliminate it. The question is: what do your people do when they see ‘broken.’ What do you encourage/permit them to do?

I’d install a BROKEN button. When you hit it, you can do anything and everything to fix the problem. Train people when to hit the button and then trust them to do the right thing.