Can you have Improved Service Design without Management Change?

There is one certain way to ruin months of good work on service design, customer experience and user experience work.

You fail to make the necessary management improvements to support the new design.

AddtoCartIf change is to occur, it shouldn’t mean everyone needs to change except management. The new design will simply fall back into the old design without a change in management perspective. This means all the work to get an improved experience for your service is negated by old management perspectives – like Frederick Taylor’s scientific management (from Deming’s Profound Changes).

  1. Belief in management control as the essential pre-condition for increasing productivity.
  2. Belief in the possibility of optimal processes.
  3. A narrow view of process improvement.
  4. Low-level sub-optimization instead of holistic, total-system improvement.
  5. Recognition of only one cause of defects: people.
  6. Separation of planning and doing.
  7. Failure to recognize systems and communities in the organization.
  8. View of workers as interchangeable, bionic machines.

Substituting this thinking with Dr. Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge and his 14 Points will give your design fighting chance. Otherwise you risk having a shiny new car with an engine that can’t make it move – it looks pretty, but doesn’t accomplish much.

Just as you work to design a better customer experience – you must design-in better management thinking and design-out old management practices.

What if you tried different design principles in your organization? Would you discover a better way to improve your service? The 95 Method is about giving you and your organization a method to help you answer these questions. You can start by downloading our free ebook or booking our on-site workshop. Tripp can be reached at tripp@newsystemsthinking.com. Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt

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Performance Appraisals – If Getting Rid of Them was Easy, Wouldn’t They be Gone?

Control through appraisalI  joined an interesting discussion at the Deming Institute official site on LinkedIn about performance appraisals. As expected in the Deming community no one spoke for the use of performance appraisals. However, a good list emerged of why organizations use them.

Here is what a contributor (John Schultz) defined as the reasons for why organizations have performance appraisals:

“When organizations are asked why performance appraisal is important. A variety of answers are put forward to bolster intentions and rationalize the scheme’s overriding purpose and legitimacy. These responses can be categorized accordingly:

• Improve performance. Give direction and focus to the workforce so quality, efficiency and effectiveness are increased with the ultimate goal of getting better organizational results.

• Enhance communication by providing routine feedback. Let the employee know how the organization is doing and how the individual is perceived as a contributor to organizational wellbeing.

• Provide a basis for compensation. Identify and respond to outstanding performance. Reward the most diligent employees with increases and bonuses so they and others will be motivated to continually do better.

• Assist staffing decisions by identifying those who are ready for promotion or layoff. It is thought that appraisal systems are fair enough and robust enough to provide rational information that will select employees for promotion or in many cases for layoff.

• Recognize and clarify training or education needs. Identify staffing and training needs, and assist employees with career development by recommending further education, instruction, tutoring, or mentoring.

• Create a paper trail that will legally document reasons for termination and defend against alleged unfair treatment. The appraisal system when properly administered should provide effective impartial and objective documentation that can serve as the foundation for employee removal or defend against perceived wrong doing.”

I believe this provides a pretty good summary of the majority of reasons for the existence of performance appraisals.

The question is “how to get rid of them?”

The short answer is to just get rid of them. However, this won’t happen unless you have an enlightened CEO like Robert Rodin of Marshall Industries. He got rid of them, but in a private reply to me he said it took a year of planning to accomplish.

Or Pluralsight where they really have never had them – but their attorneys wanted them. Funny thing, Dr. Deming had the same problem at Ford – the attorneys wouldn’t let them divest performance appraisals. Begs the question of having a great environment to work in vs. those that think they are protecting the organization.

I offer a different approach. I don’t believe that you can get the full benefit of Dr. Deming’s philosophy unless you do all the elements or with my method at least try them all. This is the subject of my ebook.

You don’t need to go cold turkey, but you can with the right leadership – some like Marshall Industries, Bama Companies and Pluralsight have accomplished this. However, for the rest of the organizations you can conduct a small scale pilot with a group of workers (and a couple managers) that can deliver end-to-end service to customers. You can design-out performance appraisals, bonuses, fear and use Dr. Deming’s principles as a guide. This gives you a chance to work through any issues that may arise. Performance using the Deming philosophy will improve along with morale, customer trust and management focus.

You can download the free ebook – The Service Cost Paradox.

What if you tried different design principles in your organization? Would you discover a better way to improve your service? The 95 Method is about giving you and your organization a method to help you answer these questions. You can start by downloading our free ebook or booking our on-site workshop. Tripp can be reached at tripp@newsystemsthinking.com. Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt

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Do You Work On or In the System?

Thomas Edison built the world's first large-sc...

Thomas Edison built the world’s first large-scale electrical supply network. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity to progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.” – Thomas Edison

One of my favorite quotes and part of it can be heard by Susan B. Anthony at Disney World’s American Adventure in EPCOT.

There are certain people that are satisfied working IN a system. The mantra of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” rules their daily lives. Compliance and “getting by” makes for a pretty boring life. For some it is because they have nearly always been successful working IN the system. In education, we find Valedictorians fit this mold. Why would they want to change the education system? Or executives receiving big bonuses and pay, why would they change the system?

This creates a management paradox – or in this case a system paradox. Why would you look to improve something that seems to be making you money or moving you seemingly forward. Working IN the system can certainly have its rewards.

Fortunately or unfortunately, many of us don’t live by this creed. There has to be a better way – always. The constant struggle to find  the road to utopia can be exhausting and never-ending. After all, “always” and “never-ending” are a long time. Seems easier just to comply and fit-in rather than constantly seek better ways.

Those bent on finding a better way by working ON the system need to be able to “unfreeze” those satisfied with the status quo. This can be no small task. The battle is to be able to challenge beliefs and assumptions without tripping the cognitive dissonance alarms. Once those babies are set off, denial and resistance are soon to follow.

My latest research has me looking into the research done to date in the social sciences. I have found – not surprisingly – that there has to exist some curiosity or openness in an individual. This is individual and subjective to the person targeted for new perspectives.

An approach I use is to have someone look at their organization from a different perspective. A front-line view is often helpful as interactions with customers take place there. For all the reports and financial statements nothing can tell you more than looking at interactions between the customer-facing worker and the customer.  New perspectives are gained and can “unfreeze” your targeted audience.

The first chapter of my new eBook – The Service Cost Paradox – gives you a method to “melt” those stuck working IN the system. Once the person starts to question their system – there is no turning back – they are now working ON the system. The next natural step is to ask “why” the organization performs that way – this is the subject of Chapter 2.

Whether you or somebody you know is stuck IN the system – taking action to “unfreeze” your thinking can bring you to breakthrough improvement.

Down load my free eBook at www.newsystemsthinking.com. Take a look at your organization as your customers see it – our 4-day workshop has been called “an awakening experience.” You will understand the customer view of your organization and take inventory of the assumptions, beliefs and perspectives that drive performance. Tripp Babbitt is a service design architect and organizational futurist. His company helps service organizations understand future trends, culture and customer. The 95 Method designs organizations to improve the comprehensive customer experience while improving culture and management effectiveness. Read his column at Quality Digest and his articles for PEX and CallCenterIQ. Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

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Want to Be a Change Agent? Here is a Method and a Challenge

Change agents often are working on efficiency and not effectiveness. The key is to know the difference.

Maybe I shouldn’t assume you don’t – and in that case if what I write here is not unfamiliar to you than it is probably someone else. In fact, I know many Lean and Six Sigma folks that get it.

There are four areas that you need to understand if you are do make your organization effective and this means something very different than being efficient. They are:

  • Systems Thinking
  • Theory of Variation
  • Theory of Knowledge
  • Psychology

Yes, this is Dr. Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge and the message that he was delivering was to management. Yet, many doing Lean and Six Sigma are only addressing machines and front-line workers to increase productivity (efficiency). Management is -after all – the ones that hired these folks – internal or external. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, right?

The problem is that we are walking by the largest gains that are only achieved by being effective. So, what is being missed?

Well, if you are in service industry you may be missing the functional separation of work. Too often I see lean practitioners making a process efficient that doesn’t need to exist at all. Balancing workloads between front-office and back-office doesn’t make a lot of sense if there is no need for the back office. You won’t be very popular when you start stirring up the office politics. The back-office executive will label you as trouble and the fun begins.

What about performance appraisals? Biggest waste of time and effort on earth. Yet, most mid-size and larger organizations have them. The loss is enormous in terms of time and effort. However, if you don’t understand variation and why ranking and rating people is ridiculous – you won’t address an enormous source of waste.

There is more to the Deming philosophy than getting rid of back offices and performance appraisals that sets management on a track to effectiveness. The benefits of the Deming philosophy are well-documented through the Japanese Industrial Miracle and many organizations in the US and elsewhere.

A reason that the Deming philosophy is hard to embrace is the mindset shift that has to take place. This is the reason I wrote a short eBook (62 pages, but a big font!). There are four chapters. The first two chapters takes you through an “unfreezing” process. Organizational mindsets are frozen with internal measures and institutionalized processes and work designs. Getting a different perspective will help melt the ice.

The two perspectives that will provide the heat to melt  the ice are a Customer-In and a Cultural perspective. The Customer-In perspective is Chapter 1 of my eBook and Chapter 2 is the Cultural perspective. If you do the things in Chapter 1 to get a Customer-In perspective and you identify the Cultural beliefs and assumptions in Chapter 2 you are on your way to unfreezing “Arendelle” (yes, from the movie Frozen).

Chapter 3 and 4 set the stage for a redesign. I have found most large organization’s cultures so institutionalized that the best way to make change is to have a fresh start. I like to call it, “What if . . . ?transformation.” The incremental improvements you get from small step improvements are fine, but let’s go for the total effectiveness. I lay out some things to try as you build your new organization. This is the time to find out what makes a better organization, but start on a small scale.

Intrigued? You can download my free eBook from my website at www.newsystemsthinking.com.

Down load my free eBook at www.newsystemsthinking.com. Take a look at your organization as your customers see it – our 4-day workshop has been called “an awakening experience.” You will understand the customer view of your organization and take inventory of the assumptions, beliefs and perspectives that drive performance. Tripp Babbitt is a service design architect and organizational futurist. His company helps service organizations understand future trends, culture and customer. The 95 Method designs organizations to improve the comprehensive customer experience while improving culture and management effectiveness. Read his column at Quality Digest and his articles for PEX and CallCenterIQ. Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

 

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Pluralsight – The Best Company You Never Heard of

PluralsightA few months back, I had the pleasure of being one of five Deming instructors participating in delivering a Deming Institute sponsored 2-1/2 day seminar to the entire Pluralsight organization. The fact that this was an all-hands meeting (200+ in attendance) told me these guys were serious about the Deming philosophy and making it part of their culture.

So, who is Pluralsight?

Pluralsight is an on-line training provider. The company produces on-line courses for people that want to learn software development and IT.

The more important question may be,” what is Pluralsight becoming?” They are becoming a Deming company by building into their system a Deming DNA. This is not an easy task when most of the other organizations in the world are following a completely different and mostly opposite path.

So, what is in their Deming DNA? Or what isn’t in their Deming DNA? They do not have sales commissions, bonuses,or  targets. They do have profit sharing, trust and the right kind of leadership. They understand variation and the difference between common and special causes of variation. They also understand how tampering makes their system worse and creates a finger pointing culture.

Want more? They got rid of their paid time off and travel and expense policies. You take whatever vacation you need and you do what is right for travel and expenses. This allows the use of guiding principles rather than rules and policies – I have found this works for dealing with customers too.

All the employee rules and policies you see in most every organization has been replaced by two rules at Pluralsight:

  1. Be respectful, considerate, and kind, even when you disagree.
  2. Always act in Pluralsight’s best interest.

Who wouldn’t want to work in an organization like that? The top-down rule -producing organization is probably going into full tilt mode right now.

A forward thinking organization like this is coming to your industry and will be creating a new type of disruption. Can you compete against an organization this nimble, while your big boat anchor of rules, policies and procedures keeps you from leaving the dock?

Some will think they can copy Pluralsight and then they have you right where the Japanese auto, electronic, optical instrument and steel industries have had US competitors for years now – copying to catch up. When you copy, you never catch up. Regardless, many will read this post (and others) and try – think Toyota.

The fundamental Deming philosophy needs to be understood to find your path using it. Find your path and let your competitors follow you – now you are a leader.

You can listen to Keith Sparkjoy talk about the Pluralsight journey in his presentation at the Deming conference called, Discovering Deming: Cultural Evolution at Pluralsight. Aaron Skonnard, CEO of Pluralsight writes a column for Inc magazine.

Take a look at your organization as your customers see it – our 4-day workshop has been called “an awakening experience.” You will understand the customer view of your organization and take inventory of the assumptions, beliefs and perspectives that drive performance. Tripp Babbitt is a service design architect and organizational futurist. His company helps service organizations understand future trends, culture and customer. The 95 Method designs organizations to improve the comprehensive customer experience while improving culture and management effectiveness. Read his column at Quality Digest and his articles for PEX and CallCenterIQ. Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

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Why We Should Cheer for Michael Dell

Dell went private about a year ago. Not necessarily for all the right reasons, but it is a start. Dell faced needed time and space to make things happen and  WallStreet and its “90-day shot clock” looking for results sooner rather than later just wouldn’t allow that to happen. So, Dell snubbed WallStreet and with help from partners took the company private.

2000px-Dell_Logo.svgResults over past year (as reported by CNBC):

  • US shipments grew 19.7%
  • Paid down $1.3 billion in debt
  • Gained PC market share for 7 quarters in a row
  • Fastest YoY growth among peers

The short-term thinking competitors namely IBM and HP that are using the Wall Street playbook of splitting up, reorganizing and cutting costs have given ground to Dell. Dell is out of the crisis created by Wall Street thinking and generating new opportunities for new longer term thinking. Michael Dell said it best, “We now have the freedom and flexibility to focus %100 on our customers and partners.”

Wow! Building your business with a focus on customers and long-term thinking. W. Edwards Deming would be smiling.

Take heed Wall Street – Dell said that many of the things they have done private could have been done public, “but it would have taken longer.” What? You mean the 90-day shot-clock doesn’t promote fast movement. The answer of course is a resounding NO – it creates all the short-term thinking knee-jerk reactions and crisis.

Let’s hope other companies make this move. They can – using the guiding principles Dr. Deming left us.

Take a look at your organization as your customers see it – our 4-day workshop has been called “an awakening experience.” You will understand the customer view of your organization and take inventory of the assumptions, beliefs and perspectives that drive performance. Tripp Babbitt is a service design architect and organizational futurist. His company helps service organizations understand future trends, culture and customer. The 95 Method designs organizations to improve the comprehensive customer experience while improving culture and management effectiveness. Read his column at Quality Digest and his articles for PEX and CallCenterIQ. Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

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Is Your Obsession with Schedule Killing Your Quality?

Time to LearnA couple weeks ago, I went to the W. Edwards Deming Institute pre-conference facilitated by David Langford of Langford Learning. During his workshop David talked about how teachers give a test over material on a date. The test date and schedule of learning is set in stone, but the quality of the learning is flexible – flexible meaning that the student’s knowledge of the material is of less importance than the date. The student learning is compromised by the date.

After some reflection, it occurred to meet that this is what happens in programs and projects in organizations. They set a date, put together a project plan and all focus is to hit the date. The quality is questionable when delivered, but the date is hit. This is completely backwards from the thinking that should prevail.

Our projects, plans and programs have come with more rigor around the dates. Project managers are used to carefully schedule and track progress on Gantt charts – this doesn’t solve the glaring systemic issues in management, design, culture and quality.  In fact, in many organizations if you try to suggest improvements during the course of a project you are informed that this would compromise the delivery date and probably some incentive for hitting the date. Good quality work be damned!

If education and other organizations want to deliver quality students, products or services, then the focus needs to be on the method and not the date. Otherwise, waste and mediocrity will continue to prevail in our systems.

Take a look at your organization as your customers see it – our 4-day workshop has been called “an awakening experience.” You will understand the customer view of your organization and take inventory of the assumptions, beliefs and perspectives that drive performance. Tripp Babbitt is a service design architect and organizational futurist. His company helps service organizations understand future trends, culture and customer. The 95 Method designs organizations to improve the comprehensive customer experience while improving culture and management effectiveness. Read his column at Quality Digest and his articles for PEX and CallCenterIQ. Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

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Hospitals – Now is the Time for Standards and Inspection

NursesI am not a fan of standardized work and inspection in service industry.  Guiding principles work much better by being easy to follow and far less costly.  There are certain conditions when this does not apply.  Namely, when lives are at stake.

In this instance, work standards and inspection become a necessity.

There is one qualification – workers still need to understand “why” they are having to do each step.  This way something that seems ridiculous has purpose.  Further, it offers opportunity to make improvements to the existing protocol.

W. Edwards Deming used the illustration of washing a table and the importance of knowing the purpose that the table serves.  Am I cleaning it to study on?  Eat off of?  Or conducting surgery?  How you clean the table is different for each scenario.

The nurses that treated patient zero and now have been infected with ebola did the best they knew how.  However, they did not have the knowledge to effectively safeguard themselves from it.

The sad part is that the knowledge existed, but did not reach the hospital to help the nurses.  Knowledge moving forward will be important to stave off this deadly virus.

Take a look at your organization as your customers see it – our 4-day workshop has been called “an awakening experience.” You will understand the customer view of your organization and take inventory of the assumptions, beliefs and perspectives that drive performance. Tripp Babbitt is a service design architect and organizational futurist. His company helps service organizations understand future trends, culture and customer. The 95 Method designs organizations to improve the comprehensive customer experience while improving culture and management effectiveness. Read his column at Quality Digest and his articles for PEX and CallCenterIQ. Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

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Take Away the Incentive to Eliminate School Cheating

Burnt toastW. Edwards Deming often spoke about American Toast.

“You burn and I’ll scrape.”

This fits the picture that is being painted in the American Education system.

A WallStreet Journal article titled, For School Tests, Measures to Detect Cheating Proliferate outlines how school systems are hiring a company called Caveon Test Security to help prevent and detect cheating on tests.  This represents the epitome of the making of  American Toast.

I don’t fault Caveon for taking advantage of a bad system – after all, it is the American way.  Making money off of other people’s ignorance and stupidity will always have a home here.

It should not be difficult to recognize that the US education system has fallen into the trap that impairs business – namely incentives.  Incentives will always get people to do something you may desire.

The incessant testing of students has paved a path to score or grade teachers and schools.  The incentives come in the form of more money for schools with high test scores.  If, however, you are at the other end of the spectrum you may just want to save your job.

Testing schemes — like finances in business — are just keeping score.  The methods of teaching are what will make the figures better.  Focus on method and not result seems to be something that our education folks can’t get their head around – which is scary.

The unintended consequences of incentives have played out in DC, Philadelphia, and Atlanta in high profile cases.  Yet there has been many less publicized incidents of cheating.  Remove the incentive to cheat and companies like Caveon will wilt like a weed — it will cut off the source that makes it grow.

Instead spend the money on teaching methods — and why you are at it get rid of the expensive tests.

Take a look at your organization as your customers see it – our 4-day workshop has been called “an awakening experience.” You will understand the customer view of your organization and take inventory of the assumptions, beliefs and perspectives that drive performance. Tripp Babbitt is a service design architect and organizational futurist. His company helps service organizations understand future trends, culture and customer. The 95 Method designs organizations to improve the comprehensive customer experience while improving culture and management effectiveness. Read his column at Quality Digest and his articles for PEX and CallCenterIQ. Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

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What does a Service Design Architect do?

Probably the question most asked by folks, “What does a Service Design Architect do?”  We put together a video to explain.

 

Lean and/or Six Sigma can give you efficiency, but service design can make you more effective.  Are you working on the right things?

Take a look at your organization as your customers see it – our 4-day workshop has been called “an awakening experience.” You will understand the customer view of your organization and take inventory of the assumptions, beliefs and perspectives that drive performance. Tripp Babbitt is a service design architect and organizational futurist. His company helps service organizations understand future trends, culture and customer. The 95 Method designs organizations to improve the comprehensive customer experience while improving culture and management effectiveness. Read his column at Quality Digest and his articles for PEX and CallCenterIQ. Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

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