Standing in line in airport security last week, I noticed that half the people in line were taking their shoes off while others were not. I wasn’t surprised because I’ve been at airports recently where all passengers were being told by TSA agents that we could leave our shoes on. So naturally, some of us thought “Hey, we can leave our shoes on.” Of course, that wasn’t the case.

In the same security line, I also heard one of the TSA agents yelling “Be sure to KEEP your boarding pass with you!” This is the first time in years that I’ve heard that request.

Not surprisingly, these changes were confusing all the passengers, and everything in security was being slowed down as people went back to their bags for boarding passes, or had to be told to take their shoes off before going through the scanners.

Inconsistent processes like these lead to confusion, which leads to inefficient throughput (security was REALLY slow as a result), and it can lead to errors (several passengers went through without their boarding passes. Does this mean they weren’t screened properly?!?).

Now look at your organization, and how you process data. Do different staff process the same data differently? If so, not only is it going to slow down your data processing, it’s also going to lead to errors. You need to your processes consistent, and then you need to document those processes so everyone is doing it the same way.

Don’t let the TSA be your model!