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Cashier Number 3 Please by Terry Green

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SHORTEST PROCESSED FIRST

When I first came across the notion of “Shortest Processed First,” in my mind it took on a magical quality, a kind of arithmetic sleight of hand.

I found myself explaining how it worked on a pristine whiteboard in the shiny new offices of a bank in the north of England. I had a room full of operations people and a highly paid consultant from a major consultancy practice who were advising the bank. I had better make this good.

I picked up the marker pen.

“At the moment, you serve all of your customers in the order of their arrival, what we call ‘First In, First Out.’” I wrote FIFO as a heading on the board.

“I would like you to consider using an alternative methodology, which we call ‘Shortest Processed First.’” I wrote ...

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