Category Archives: Systems Thinking and Management

“Missed It by That Much”

I had dinner the other night at a new local restaurant with my wife.  She asked me about how a restaurant might improve their service.  Seems a reasonable question and I am constantly evaluating the service I get or don’t get.

I thought I would order a sandwich like I do at my favorite “other restaurant” and that would be a grilled tenderloin with extra pickle and a cottage cheese side.  I gave my order to the waiter, she wrote nothing down.  Sure enough, the sandwich came fried and i had to send it back.  The waiter also failed to provide eating utensils or apologize for the wrong order.  The tenderloin (#2) was OK, but nothing special.

As a new restaurant, that is trying to secure new customers . . . they did not provide service that I expected or “what mattered” to me.  Had they been able to do this, I may have switched to the new restaurant.  Why?  Because a week later I had a similar experience at my favorite restaurant.  In fact, I can think of a few restaurants that failed one way or another which meant there was opportunity.

It reminds of the story that I heard years ago, where two hikers coming out of a tent run across a grizzly bear.  One hiker starts to slowly put on his tennis shoes and the other hiker on seeing this says, ” You are never going to outrun that bear.”  The response, “I don’t have to outrun that bear, I just need to outrun you.”

The issue is that you never know what the competition is really doing.  Don’t worry about what the competition does, just worry about what you are doing.  If you can “execute” to “what matters” to customers you probably can build a decent clientele.  The problem is restaurants seem to be focused on things that don’t matter to me.  And  if you want to get my business . . . get my order right.

Share This:
Facebooktwitterlinkedin

Synthesis, Not Analysis is the Problem

I caught an interview with an gentleman by the name of Brad Grossman (Grossman and Partners) that works with executives to keep them current (in general).  I visited his website and found that one of his predictions for the future is the need for more analytical positions in the future.

If only analysis was the problem.

The American problem is synthesis.  God knows that as Americans that we know how to break things down.  We already are in data overload.  We have complex systems of delivering products and services that are weighed down in costs of the infrastructure.  Are ability to break things down does not guarantee that when we put them together again they will synthesize very well.

The functionally separated organizations that we have designed perpetuate the problem.  Dogmatic management that manages the pieces by optimizing them at the expense of the whole system.  Locked-in by pay for performance with the fundamental belief that performance is down to the individual.

The organization has a boat anchor around its metaphoric neck.  Learning how to synthesize means learning to see the damage or enablement that the current thinking is doing to the system.

Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work.  Read his column at Quality Digest and his articles for CustomermanagementIQ.com. Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbittor LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

Share This:
Facebooktwitterlinkedin

A Process of Discovery

Functionally separated organizations have one thing in common . . . they don’t have a clue.

Each function absorbs the demands placed upon them from some IT application and off they go to work.  The unfortunate workers that have to interact with customers that encounter such work design bear the burden of brutal backlash when the service delivered is pathetic.  Such is the life of workers on the front-line.

Management meantime is busy in their respective offices pouring over the latest scorecards that can’t help them manage.  Both worker and manager are frustrated that the other just doesn’t get it.

Does it really matter?

The pointing of fingers does little but create a divide and some kind of organizational class warfare.  both sides so sanctimonious in their debate that each side is deaf to the real problem.  And we think the US political system is a mess, this is – by operational definition – deadlock.

The deadlock can be broken in service organizations.  Customers represent the tie-breaker and focus of to break the deadlock.  If functionally separated organizations cannot agree on anything, they can agree the importance of the customer.  This is true even with the clouded glasses in which they view customers.  Especially, when they see the same thing at the same time.

Debate ensues when we see things together, but can ultimately be resolved by what matters to customers.  It is a process of discovery that bridges the gaps and refocuses our aim.

Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work.  Read his articles at Quality Digest and his column for CustomermanagementIQ.com.  Learn more about the The 95 Method for service organizations.  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbittor LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

Share This:
Facebooktwitterlinkedin

Our “Rank and Yank” Culture

English: The first verse of Yankee Doodle, a w...

English: The first verse of Yankee Doodle, a well-known US song. The words are from a well-known song that first appeared in the 1700s. Any copyright for the words would have expired. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The word Yankee or the shortened form “Yank” is an offensive word when used by foreigners, especially those residing in the UK.  Yankee dates back in time, the song Yankee Doodle developed by the British as an insult in 1775.  In true American form, we adopted the term in a complimentary sense.  We won the war and set the standard from that moment forward.

Now, you can call Americans anything you want, except . . . late for dinner.

Now, we have organizational cultures with a “rank and yank” mentality.  We should reference it as “mental.”  “Gee, I wonder why employees hate our company” is a oft heard lament of HR.  Well, it could be that teamwork you build by stack ranking employees creating competition and the brown-nosing manipulator too often takes the top spot.  Real ideas are lost to pleasing the risk averse hierarchy.

The revelation that Microsoft and many other organizations throughout the US embrace stacked ranking and the “rank and yank” mentality exposes either our stupidity or ignorance – choose one.  We have so many difficulties in competing these days and coming up with new ideas that can unleash growth and employment that we have no time for this silliness.

For more read this article on better thinking.

Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work.  Read his articles at Quality Digest and his column for CustomermanagementIQ.com.  Learn more about the The 95 Method for service organizations.  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbittor LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Share This:
Facebooktwitterlinkedin

The Secret to Great a Customer Experience

I have been reading a lot of customer experience articles and posts.  Most of it is softball stuff, lots of syrupy language and like love your customers and think about the customer experience in all you do.  Unfortunately, as I dig deeper the traditional design and management approaches make all this stuff a real yawner.  Yet, people make a ton of money telling you obvious things with speeches and writing.

Traditional approaches still are based on incentives and having the “right” data.  One is based on the flawed thinking that performance is down to the individual.  And then – of course – data is needed to figure out ways to improve the customer experience . . . bring in the IT!

Sorry folks, dead end.

Getting a great customer experience requires a better system for front-line employees to work in.  The 25 – 75% failure demand that customers experience is pathetic.  Designing the work to customer purpose and demands.  Management learning counter-intuitive truths about how system perform and that it is not down to the individual.

The fluffy and feel good customer experience gurus need more depth to what needs to happen to change the poorly designed systems.  Just using words like “seamless” and “customer friendly” advances nothing.  Some depth . . . please!

Share This:
Facebooktwitterlinkedin

Increasing Sales is About Changing Thinking

Whether you live in the US or not, the thinking about how to increase sales seems universal.  Hiring sales type personalities that can overcome objections and hit targets.  This thinking has been repeated so often that organizations have come to believe it . . . if it were only true.

The service that most organizations achieve for their customers is horrendous and poor service leads organizations filled with revenue targets to “hit the number.”  Incentives and training to overcome objections is the recourse.  No one addresses the main thing that prevents sales, namely, bad service.

This bad service can be measured in organizations by understanding what percentage of customer demands are in the form of failure demand (the failure to do something or do something right for a customer).  The percentage in most organizations is between 25 and 75% of all customer demands.  It is difficult to sell to someone with this much failure.

High failure demand means we have to compensate for our bad service by selling.  After all, it takes a lot of extra sugar coating to sell to someone that gets horrible service.

Service can only be improved by changing the system and the system requires new thinking about the design and management of work.

Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work.  Read his articles at Quality Digest and his column for CustomermanagementIQ.com.  Learn more about the The 95 Method for service organizations.  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbittor LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

Share This:
Facebooktwitterlinkedin

Wall of Shame: Ticket #2428124

I won’t pretend to be the only one to have service problems and some are more bearable than others.  However, my experience at the Glasgow Marriott is legendary . . . in a bad way.

I have had problems with the Marriott in Glasgow previously, especially with the iBahn internet service.  I understand the problems with using WiFi in an old building with high floors (although it could be solved).  I have often suffered through the poor speed of the broadband as the substitute to the WiFi problem.

Unfortunately, the problem experienced was more egregious  . . . I was completely kicked out of the system.

The first time I had the problem, the answer was a different room (a suite).  The second time there were nor other rooms (apparently).  Being Platinum with the Marriott Hotels, usually I get taken care of in these situations.  No today or even the week I was there.

The problem started when things were working fine with the broadband connection and I was kicked off the system.  Calling down to the front desk, I was told that iBahn handles these problems – why is it when a customer has a problem no one takes responsibility in service?  This is failure demand (the failure to do something or do something right for a customer – 95) pure and simple.  Regardless, I was passed to iBahn customer service.

iBahn customer service wound up resetting my system and my service was restored which is fine or so I thought.  The problem became repetitive and I was continually kicked out of the connection . . . sometimes in 20 minutes, sometimes in two hours.  I had to call down to the front desk and get transferred over 20 times over 3 days and I was out during the day!

One day they tried replacing the modem, didn’t work.  The sad part is many customers get to pay for this privilege  because they don’t have Platinum or Gold status with Marriott.  A customer doesn’t want to have to fix a problem that is not theirs and to have to pay for it is ridiculous.

My problems as a customer that you create are yours to solve . . . not mine.  Passing the buck and washing your hands of the problem because its the “vendor’s problem” does not wash with customers in any service.  Marriott chose this vendor, not me.  As a customer, I should be exempt from solving problems for Marriott.

Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work.  Read his articles at Quality Digest and his column for CustomermanagementIQ.com.  Learn more about the The 95 Method for service organizations.  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbittor LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

Share This:
Facebooktwitterlinkedin

The Psychology of Selling

Being from the United States, one becomes use to the constant “push” for sales.  Car dealers are notorious for the dreaded “push” sale.  Lots of tricks to get you to buy a car.  They “hold” your keys for appraisal and don’t let you leave – I had that happen to me at a Tom Wood Volkswagen dealership in Indianapolis.  I not only left mad, but I told many other people about how ridiculous it was I had to be put through this as a customer.

Years ago, I had training from the Sandler Sales Institute that made a lot of sense.  I remember first understanding that customers don’t trust salespeople (because they lie) during the sales training.  The Sandler system was set up to not make you look like a salesperson.  The aim was to build trust.

Since, I have learned the 95 Method.  The Method helps eliminate failure demand (demand caused by a failure to do something or do something right for a customer).  Bad service in the form of failure demand helps undermine trust in the eyes of a customer.  Try selling to a customer that has an outstanding issue can only make them mad.  Overselling to a customer creates failure demand when they discover that they don’t need to overpay for a service that is too much for their needs or budget.  This is all “push.”  “Push” too often leads to failure demand.  Sales organizations with revenue shortfalls often rely on more “push” to hit revenue targets which in turn creates more waste in failure demand.

There are many reasons for failure demand in service organizations, standardization and “push” selling are only two.  The only way to learn what causes failure demand is to study your organization as a system.  The 95 Method does this (we offer a free download at www.newsystemsthinking.com or even on this blog).  No matter what the cause of failure demand, it is a barrier to greater sales.

The elimination of failure demand removes the barrier and gives customers the opportunity to “pull” for products and services.  All customers like to buy, very few like to be coerced through “push” methods.  Service organizations can build trust with their customers and that is the real winning psychology of selling.

Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work.  Read his articles at Quality Digest and his column for CustomermanagementIQ.com.  Learn more about the 95 Method for service organizations.  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbittor LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

Share This:
Facebooktwitterlinkedin

Another Fine Mess

“Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!”                                                   – Oliver Hardy

Lobby Card c. 1921 featuring the first appeara...

Image via Wikipedia

Will Governor Daniels have to testify or not in the IBM lawsuit?  Who knows.  However, we all should care as the $1.3 billion boat anchor (Cancelled IBM contract) continues to be the gift that keeps on giving.  The State of Indiana sues IBM and IBM sues the State of Indiana.  Costs increase and waste begets waste.

In a recent Indianapolis Star interview, Peter Rusthoven (Attorney for the State) describes IBM in this manner:

We thought we were getting the guys who were building a better planet, and we ended up with Larry the Cable Guy.”                                 – Peter Rusthoven

Wow, if that isn’t a shot across the bow.  Although it does take two to tango when you form a partnership.

“Hello partner, you are to blame.”  Doesn’t sound like either side knew what they were doing.  This is the predictable result of assumptions in management.  Modernization and automation are the key words to future waste in any organization.  Start with flawed logic and you make your own bed.

The problem is that Federal, state and local governments continue to flock to IT companies like IBM for the same flawed assumptions.  The waste is enormous and predictable.  The only loser is the taxpayer, year after disastrous year – we all pay for having leaders and vendors make bad decisions.

This is a disease of all parties – not just Republicans.  Democrats face the same issues.  There is a simpler way to design work, but it requires changing the way you think about work.  You must first get knowledge about the “what and why” of current performance.  Redesigning the work without IT, but even this can not be done unless leadership participates and changes too – something that elected leaders fail to do is change.  Ego of being elected may be partially to blame, after all . . . doesn’t every elected official have a mandate?

Elected officials are in most cases not fit to make decisions as most come with a slew of assumptions.  Most of these assumptions we don’t learn about until after they are elected.  Ability to govern apparently is a side road to the main street of politics.

Until our leaders learn how to govern properly, we – the people – need to ask better questions about things that matter.  A good place to start would be by asking. “what method” will you use to reduce the deficit?  If automation and modernization is the answer prepare to pay dearly.

Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work.  Read his articles at Quality Digest and his column for CustomermanagementIQ.com.  Learn more about the 95 Method for service organizations.  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbittor LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Share This:
Facebooktwitterlinkedin

American Toast: The Revenue – Expense Debate

A classic quote from Dr. Deming was “let’s make toast the American way . . . you burn, I’ll scrape.”  This quote has so many references that you can see in manufacturing, but the same applies to management.  I see more burning and scraping in service organizations with management than I care to mention.

The most obvious is when we take the income statement and functionally separate it into revenue and expense by having sales be responsible for revenue and operations responsible for expense.  CEOs claim that we must grow the top-line and reduce the burden of expense – nothing wrong with that, except asking the question “by what method?”

Getting the sales dogs to hunt and the operations to cut is the formula most management embrace for organizations.  The problem is that revenue and costs are the two sides of the same coin.  The two are inextricably tied together.  The optimization of each as independents leads to sub-optimization and waste.    The burning of toast and scraping becomes a way of “doing business.”

We have functionally separated organizations and rely on specialists to optimize the functions.  This erases the real aim of business . . . profit!  The reward and incentive systems lock in the waste.  Too many times have I seen management make their functional targets and rewards while the organization goes down the tubes.

Profit comes from the combination of revenue and expenses together.  The next step is to manage that way.

Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work.  Read his articles at Quality Digest and his column for CustomermanagementIQ.com.  Learn more about the 95 Method for service organizations.  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbittor LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

Share This:
Facebooktwitterlinkedin