Service innovation must be hard to come by as I see organizations spending money for very expensive training in innovation. I have news for every major and minor corporation . . . innovation is not that hard to come by. I would stand to say even public sector innovation is more than possible for the approach I am referencing.
So here we go . . . where can ideas percolate? With marketing? Executives? Ughhhhhh! No. That front-line employee that interacts with customers on a daily basis You know, the worker . . . the ones command and control organizations try to “dumb down” with technology, the ones that aren’t allowed to participate in decision-making for the work they do every day, the ones we try to outsource or get the cheapest, least qualified to save money. These people have first hand knowledge of what customers want and need from our services. To varying degrees the workers may be asked (half-heartedly) what they think, but command and control organizations usually don’t put innovation into the hands of “those people.”
I had a conversation recently with a pharmacist for a large drug store chain. He shared that he gets dictates all the time from corporate marketing and/or executives about what displays. rules, policies, etc. leaving them little room to do the things that would actually enhance profit and customer service. After all, these marketing and executive folks deal with the customer every day and they know better than what a front-line employee would know (they ARE paid more). Even though they either never have done the job or haven’t been on the front-line in years. This isn’t a bottom-up thing this is an outside-in proposition, the front-line worker is closest to the customer.
All those standard displays, processes, etc. keep service companies from giving good service and tapping a large source of potentially profit-enhancing, cost-reducing ideas. Unfortunately, the command and control thinkers miss this potential goldmine. The leadership strategy is to manage them with dictates.
A systems thinking organization taps into the front-line worker hires people for these positions that can think and allow them to use their brains to help improve the organization. These systems thinking organizations work to understand purpose, demand, value and flow and have measures that relate to purpose leaving the workers the ability to innovate . . . liberating method. This liberation of method enhances the enjoyment of the work and gives the organization a plethora of new ideas to increase profits and reduce costs. But all this can only happen if we change the way we think about the management of work.
Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public). He is focused on exposing the problems of command and control management and the termination of bad service through application of new thinking . . . systems thinking. Download free Understanding Your Organization as a System and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt.Share This: