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The Rolling Muffin

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

As a lover of systems and local coffee shops, it is always exciting to see effective external, customer-facing, systems in action.


A young boy sits down, knocks the table, and sends his muffin rolling across the coffee shop’s floor.

External System: Trigger

The customer walks to the counter Response 1. Welcome the customer 2. Take the customer’s order 3. Receive payment Outcomes 1. The customer receives their order 2. The customer enjoys their order 3. The customer returns and tells others about their experience Repeat

Nowhere in this system is there a section that addresses a rogue rolling muffin, yet it’s a signal of effective management when the barista, without question, replaces the muffin free of cost. In this situation, management has empowered their team to make independent decisions based on the situation and understanding the system's ultimate desired outcome - creating an experience where the customer is pleased and becomes a repeat customer.

In healthcare, akin to the well-oiled machinery of a local coffee shop, effective external systems are crucial for ensuring a positive patient experience. The unexpected events, much like a wayward muffin, may not be explicitly outlined in clinical procedures. Still, it is a testament to effective management when providers, empowered by a patient-centric ethos, can seamlessly adapt to unforeseen circumstances. Whether it's a compassionate response to a patient's anxiety or a swift adjustment to an evolving medical situation, a resilient system recognizes the importance of empowering professionals to make decisions that align with the overarching goal of patient well-being. Just as a satisfied customer becomes a loyal patron of a coffee shop, a patient who experiences compassionate and adaptable care is more likely to trust, recommend, and engage with the practice, contributing to a cycle of positive outcomes and enduring relationships.

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