Category Archives: Service Design and Management

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All the employee rules and policies you see in most every organization has been replaced by two rules at Pluralsight: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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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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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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Is Your Efficiency Killing Your Effectiveness?

The advent of the quality movement has morphed into efficiency spawned by cost-cutting.  However, to be efficient doesn’t mean you are being effective.

Customers want you to be efficient because costs get lower, but not at the expense of effectiveness.

Confused?

Efficiency needs to yield to effectivenessAs a service organization — or even as a manufacturer — you have products and services that make the life of your customer better, easier and/or more fun.  You could say your reason for existence is to  achieve this.  The actions of service organizations  seem to indicate a lack of understanding of this simple fact.

OK, still confused?

Let’s take the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system that customers have to go through with service organizations.  You know, the push-button or voice activated greeting you get.  Customers hate them.  Rarely do you find a menu of options that makes any sense to a customer.  Frustration ensues.  Misroutes are notorious with an IVR system.

It doesn’t end there.  Customers often have to give their name, account number and other pertinent information to the IVR and when the service representative answers they ask the same questions.

If customers hate them so much, then why do service organizations use them?

Because they assume they make their organization efficient.  If any organization wants to make a customers life easier, better and/or more fun — they wouldn’t put in an IVR.

One other word about IVR and customers.  I did some internet research for a survey about how customers hate IVRs.  Most of these surveys are done by — you guessed it — the ones that sell IVRs. One blog promoted with delight that only 66% of customers hate them.  They found this encouraging.  I am not kidding.  Could you find  any other product with a 34% approval from customers that still exists?  Beside politics?

Service organizations happily keep buying these modern marvels despite there ineffectiveness.  Technology is treated  this way in general.  Say the word “technology” and people swoon over having to get one.  Then it becomes “just keeping up with the Joneses.”

There is a constant push to move customers to “more efficient” channels to conduct business.  This is done in the name of reducing costs.  IVRs are one category, and websites are another.  But something is lost.  The interaction between a customer and an organization becomes less intimate.  Building a strong bond does not come from CRM systems, it comes from relationships  through front-line workers.

In the end, effectiveness has to beat out efficiency.  Being effective means doing what increases the chance of doing what is important to customers.  The financial, mechanized approach won’t get you there.

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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Do You Want New Customers?

Almost every for-profit organization wants more customers.  Who wouldn’t?  More revenue and profit — sure beats the alternative.

Let’s not talk about that.

Good service costs lessThe funny thing is that customers that you currently have sometimes get the shaft.  Look at the recent deal by Sprint that is not offered to existing customers.  Say what?

Ignoring existing customers doesn’t build customer trust.  This really   is a poor strategy.  Customers resent the “your important until you become a customer” mantra.  Customers that hate your service — leave.

Another industry that doesn’t seem to get it — are hospitals.  They are all about branding and having “world-class” doctors, but many don’t share data to prove they are “world-class.”

The reason they don’t is because they are not.

You have to wonder what the marketing spend would have to be if you actually did take care of customers.  Happy customers tell others and then they do business with you.  The service you provide creates the brand and not vice versa.

The mirage is a mirage when it comes to branding.

You get one good chance to keep a customer for life.  Don’t blow it.  Otherwise you will have to spend a ton on branding and marketing to convince the market you are something you are not.

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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Large IT Projects Fail in Government . . . and Business

The Healthcare.gov fiasco has the Republicans calling out the Democrats.  The truth is both parties have failed national and state implementations of information technology.  The bottom-line is large IT projects are destined to fail.  They all require what IT companies sometimes call “teething pains.”

Information Technology companies answer has been to add more costs by audits, project management, and other well-meaning but budget-busting activities.  Untold fortunes in time and reams of paper are used to document and standardize in single-focused IT projects.  The waste is monumental.

In business, you see nothing that is any different.  In fact, it is often much worse.  In banking, core banking software is slammed in and then after companies “get use to” the new system they do process improvement.

Why is it that IT implementation precedes designing work? Cart before horse thinking is the magical answer being sold in the marketplace.  Work design, culture and significant measures of success are ignored.  IT staff celebrate hotting the date while workers stuck with using the (poorly designed) IT system are left frustrated and left out.

You can spend far less on IT if before you even talk about IT solutions you understand your problems.  If IT was the answer, what was the question?  Can you really afford another IT catastrophe?  Just because you don’t make talk television, the newspaper or become the joke of internet websites the waste in resources is still present . . . even if ignored.

Understanding your culture that drives your design and the customer-in view of performance should become basic to any work design.  And . . . this should come before IT.

Tripp Babbitt is a service design architect.  His organization helps executives find a better way to link perspective to performance and enable workers to build and refine their service.  Read his column at Quality Digest and his articles for CustomermanagementIQ.com. Reach him on Twitter atwww.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn atwww.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

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The End of the Expert

The era of the expert has officially come to an end.

Most purported “experts” today  have decided to give themselves this label.  When you hear the words, “I am the expert” you should run.

Why?

English: Charles Cornwallis, First Marquis of ...

English: Charles Cornwallis, First Marquis of Cornwallis (1738 - 1805) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)o start with . . . it is a fixed mindset and holds a manacle on future learning. After you become an expert, where do you go from there? More expert? The mostest expert? Once you label yourself an expert there is little room to grow.

Being an expert seems to be a pass to judge others as not expert.  Calling out the non-experts as not worthy to walk the sacred ground of the expert.  You will hear things like, “everything I do is purposeful.”  Wow!  The deity has arrived to right the world.  We have been waiting for your arrival.  False prophets abound.

English: General Sir Henry Clinton, Commander ...

English: General Sir Henry Clinton, Commander in Chief of the British Forces in the American Revolution, 1778-1782. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We haven’t seen such arrogance since General Cornwallis and General Clinton traipsed the American landscape over 200 years ago.  Good thing, their overconfidence was the Americans gain  Both Generals left the US with dishonor.  Both later writing books to blame the other for their colossal failure in America.

The self-proclaimed expert has a clear message, “I am the man.”  Until something goes wrong that effects their image then the message is let’s find someone to blame.  My expert image may get tarnished.

Embracing a growth mindset instead allows the unworthy to become worthy.  All have the propensity to improve their current position and no one has all the answers – at least on this earth.

A better label would be to declare ourselves life-long learners and try to live up to this.  No one is left out with this mindset.  We all have room to improve.  Otherwise, we set the world back to the days of monarchy and elitism.  Who wants that in country where “all men are created equal.”  Unless, of course you are an expert.

Tripp Babbitt is a service design architect.  His organization helps executives find a better way to link perspective to performance and enable workers to build and refine their service.  Read his column at Quality Digest and his articles for CustomermanagementIQ.com. Reach him on Twitter atwww.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn atwww.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.Enhanced by Zemanta
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A Fourth Strategy to Change Management

The first two strategies as pointed out by Bennis, Benne and Chin are not so well known, but are often used.  They are empirical-rational and power-coercive.  They are so embedded in our minds that they play like a broken record.  The empirical rational approach is to provide empirical evidence to sway the thinking of those you are trying to change or to have a rational conversation based on logic and facts.  Some view this as the “carrot” side of change management.  The power-coercive approach is to sway thinking by power and can be viewed as the “stick” side of change management.

The third strategy (still Bennis, Benne and Chin)  is the normative-reeducative approach.  Here, successful change is based on redefining and reinterpreting existing norms and values, and developing commitments to new ones.  Learning is individual and subjective, and an approach that I have been using has been to allow managers and workers to change their own thinking by putting them in places where they can unlearn and learn a better way through observation and reflection.

The fourth strategy is one that I have used off and on over the past decade and was not aware someone had discovered the same approach.  It was coined by Fred Nickols and he calls it the environmental-adaptive approach.  I spoke with Fred about this approach was inspired by Rupert Murdoch and his firing of the employees and moving them to new jobs at a different location.

This doesn’t sound so great.  However, what Fred discovered was that from his experience is that people resist disruptive change, but adapt readily  to new circumstances.  Moving people from the old way of working to new circumstances that they can adapt to sometimes may be the right approach.

The key is to move workers and management to a better system.  If the existing system is wrought with waste and bloated with bureaucracy then setting up a new organization may be an attractive way to approach change.  However, this requires different perspectives and building blocks to be embraced or you will quickly make the new into the old.

Tripp Babbitt is a service design architect.  His organization helps executives find a better way to link perspective to performance and enable workers to build and refine their service.  Read his column at Quality Digest and his articles for CustomermanagementIQ.com. Reach him on Twitter atwww.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn atwww.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

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How to Praise Good Performance

Cover of

Cover of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Opportunities to change perspective and build a more positive organization requires hard work in scouring published materials for the latest research.

I am reading a book called, Mindset by Carol Dweck (psychologist).  Dr. Dweck identifies a couple of different mindsets that people have – fixed and growth.  She believes that if we have a fixed mindset that we are not open to feedback.  If feedback is a description of someone’s value, they may not seek feedback.  Negative feedback to a fixed mindset is a horror movie in real life.

Dr. Dweck and Dr. Claudia Mueller conducted an experiment with a group of children.  Children were complimented on ability and effort.  Those that were complemented on ability (You are so smart) were found to seek easier problems, quit sooner and overall . . . performed worse.  Conversely, those children that were complimented on effort were found to seek harder problems, perservere and perform better.

So why did children perform worse when complimented on ability?  Basically, it is because when you succeed because you are smart . . . then when you fail, you are dumb.  Persistence in a difficult task risks being labeled dumb.  Who wants that?

Praise for ability in adults works the same way according to research done by Ryan and Robert Quinn in their book, Lift. When you praise adults for their ability, they believe their ability is fixed.  Executives and workers alike may become afraid of feedback for fear of failure.  Entire organizations may get caught up in their successes and avoid negative feedback.  That is, until it is too late.

Finding ways to view your organization in a different light sometimes requires negative feedback that executives don’t want to hear.  Fear of failure can be costly.

Tripp Babbitt is a service design architect.  His organization helps executives find a better way to link perspective to performance and enable workers to build and refine their service.  Read his column at Quality Digest and his articles for CustomermanagementIQ.com. Reach him on Twitter atwww.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn atwww.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

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Dell – A Harbinger of the Future?

Wallstreet . . . the bastion of gambling, quick money and short-term thinking took a hit today.  This is positive news for the masses.  An act that removes an organization from the clutches of the investment world and some of the underworld figures that run it may become a trend.  We can only hope.

David Packard -co-founder of Hewlett-Packard – echoed this notion long ago.  His sentiment about expanding a business was an equation.

“The percentage increase in sales which you can finance each year is equal to your percentage of profit after taxes times your capital turnover.  Capital turnover is defined as the dollar in sales you can produce per year for each dollar of capital you have invested in your business . . . Your capital includes working capital (that is the money to be used to buy inventory, to finance your accounts receivable, to provide some working cash, etc.) and fixed capital would be the amount of money you have spent to buy facilities, tools and equipment.”                                       – David Packard (from Growth from Performance address to Institute of Radio Engineers; April 24, 1957)

Even Henry Ford was a proponent of stockholders being active in the business.  Believing that those who were active “will regard the company as an instrument of service rather than as a machine for making money . . . Hence, we have no place for the non-working stockholders . . . If it at any time became a question between lowering wages or abolishing dividends, I would abolish dividends.” (Henry Ford, My Work and Life)

Dell has an opportunity to do the right thing and not just do things right with this move.  Making decisions based on the long term is a start.  This will allow the design of a system that does right by customers and Dell workers.

A tough road ahead?  No road is easy, but the fundamental shift in thinking leaves the door open for greater possibilities.  Go Dell!  But there will be the devil to pay if you fail.

Tripp Babbitt is a service design architect.  His organization helps executives find a better way to link perspective to performance and use workers to build and refine your service.  Read his column at Quality Digest and his articles for CustomermanagementIQ.com. Reach him on Twitter atwww.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn atwww.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

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