Continuous Improvement: Mail Delivery of the Future?

Continuous improvement is everywhere and we see the effects in all areas of life. For instance, we see it in how cell phones have evolved from the simple flip phone to the everything-in-one smart phone, and from the large 50 pound computer monitors to the now sleek flat screen monitors that are nearly as light as a feather. Improvement is occurring everywhere and is now even affecting the United States Postal Service (USPS). The USPS has very historical roots stemming from way back in the late 1700’s when mail was delivered via horse and buggy. However, a new and innovative mail delivery system is challenging the convenience of hand delivered, tangible mail such as the type delivered by the USPS. The new organization is known as “Outbox” and rivals the USPS in “improved” mail delivery.

Below, Kevin Meyer from Evolving Excellence describes the new service known as Outbox:

“A driver of a white Prius with a giant, red plastic flag affixed to its side is rolling through the hilly streets of San Francisco, undelivering mail from mailboxes.  The driver is not a thief. He and the car are part of a startup called Outbox that is attempting to pick up where the embattled United States Postal Service leaves off — by digitizing physical mail.

He collects the letters, bills, magazines and advertisements that were deposited there by official postal workers and delivers them to a warehouse. There they are opened and photographed, and the resulting digital files are sent electronically to the recipient through the Outbox website or iPad or iPhone apps.

The company already has more than 600 customers in Austin, Texas, and starting Tuesday it’s rolling out in its second city, San Francisco.

And it all costs $4.99 per month.”

WOW! You mean I would never need to open another piece of junk mail again? The answer is yes. Instead with the service of Outbox, customers could just click delete in their email when they receive a piece of unwanted junk mail instead of simply letting it fill up their garbage cans at home. Better yet, it will probably be recycled at the Outbox headquarters once it has been opened and copied. This may be a pinnacle win-win situation. Are we ready for such freedom? Many people are saying yes, in fact there are an upwards of 600 Outbox customers in Austin, Texas alone who are enjoying the benefits of this new service as we speak. However, even though this service sounds very promising, can we really just turn our backs on the USPS for mail delivery? Some may wonder, why hasn’t the USPS attempted to digitalize mail? According to Meyer on Evolving Excellence, the USPS states:

“The Postal Service is focused on providing an essential service in our mission to serve the American public and does not view Outbox as supporting that mission,” the USPS said in a statement. “We do have concerns regarding the destruction of mail — even if authorized by the receiver — and will continue to monitor market activities to ensure protection of our brand and the value and security of the mail.”

This is simply a loss for the USPS. In an ever-changing, always improving society the USPS has chosen to stand still in its service. While even though the USPS does provide a time-tested, reliable form of mail delivery, if they do not start to consider possible improvements they may be left in the dust alongside flip phones and old 50 pound computer monitors. People seek out convenience and the USPS may not be delivering the expected level of convenience for some people any longer.

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