Tag Archives: service design

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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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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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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Barclays: 2,000 More Layoffs for Decimation

Barclays  announced they plan to cut 12,000 workers and give out 10% more in bonuses for management  as reported in the USAToday article, Barclays cuts 12,000 jobs, ups bonuses 10%.

If Barclays had laid off another 2,000 employees they would have achieved the decimation that ancient Romans used to seek compliance.  You see, back in the days of the Roman empire when you had unrest, mutiny, disobedience, etc. in the Roman army you would kill every 10th man to restore order.

Barclays has committed an act that everyone knows deep down smells bad.  There is something not right about this practice that does not sit well in the gut of most people.  Besides the moral issues, the unrest is real.  If you read the comments section of the article you will find that people are calling to boycott Barclays and today the stock is tanking – but who knows what tomorrow will bring?

I have written much about the problems associated with ranking, Better Thinking: The Case Against Targets, Rewards, Incentives, Performance Appraisals and Ranking Workers and you can search this blog for more.

I believe an important question to pose to anyone doing layoffs to keep the most talented and rid themselves of the under performers is, ” Why did you hire the under performers in the first place?”  There is real cost associated with hiring poorly . . .especially 12,000 of them.

Another question I would have . . . would be, “Were they really good performers working in a bad organizational design?”  Here is where I find the biggest problem, the design of the work and system of management that has been put in place.

It is hard to blame the CEO – although many will.  The culture of many organizations is steeped in this Darwinian, “survival of the fittest” mentality.  The cost to both society and the organization are immeasurable, however, most CEOs have learned that getting to the top means leaving carnage strewn behind them is the path there.  It is they way of the world.

There is a better way.  Safer than the known way.

This means building a system where all people have dignity and worth.  Especially, those on the front line that can deliver what is important to customers without them there is no business.  Building a better system to work in can lead to not having to make cuts in the first place.

However, dire times require action.  It is hard to justify bonuses to the best while dumping 12,000 souls on society that at one time you found worthy to hire.  The loss is too great.  Just ask Enron who hired and kept the best.

Here is what I would suggest to organizations instead that would provide better leadership:

  • Forgo the bonuses and keep the employees.
  • If that is not enough, management should take a 10% cut.
  • If that is not enough, than a 10% across the board cut of salaries for all employees.

The above are actions to take for executives that want to lead from the front and not behind.  Otherwise, by default, society will view you as greedy and employees will view you as selfish.

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 CallCenterIQReach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

 

 

 

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Standardization: A View

Blog Pictures 092Allow me to give you a view on standardization.  As part of this view, I will give you my background which will give you some insight into why I see things this way.  Gone is the moniker of “Lean basher” or being part of a group that takes pleasure in being experts, but not very helpful.  I represent only myself and what I have learned.

I started my “organizational improvement” journey back in industrial distribution in the mid-80s. I was influenced by the work of W. Edwards Deming as his message was far different than what I had learned in my MBA program.  I made lots of mistakes (and still do) and continue to learn.  I do not believe there are experts when I consult, the true experts are those doing the work.  I can only offer what I have experienced and learned.

I’ve worked with just about every type of service organization and spent a large bulk of this time working with information technology companies.  Upon reflection of these years, most of the work was to standardize and improve processes as coding to a standard process is much easier than coding to large variation.

The more I saw standardization being written into business requirements the more I saw workers and service suffer.  Standardized menus to choose from call center workers that don’t reflect the actual demands.  In contact centers, I saw the most popular choice of call type being “miscellaneous” or “other” – worthless data that could help no one.

I also saw workers being forced to standardized processes, scripts, rules, procedures that did not fit the questions customers were asking.  This caused customers to call back or leave – you can measure the ones that call back, but it can be difficult to measure who left or gave up and will eventually leave.

I have also seen that as I worked with information technology customers’ that making a change to the software became an event.  Even small changes had to be vetted and prioritized while workers and customers waited.  Governance meetings were held and items would move up and down the list.  I knew there was something seriously wrong when a developer after a governance meeting stated, “I could have made that change in 5 minutes and we discussed it for two hours.”  The software development cycle (a form of standard work) to build software had become the inhibitor to enabling the work that mattered to workers (end users) and customers.  IT had lost its aim – to help users create value for customers.

Side note: Information technology companies have made it much harder than it used to be or needs to be.  The answer to budget and time overruns to IT projects was building more bureaucracy with BAs, Testers and PMs.  Most of the time the PMs are just asking the developers when they will be done or ticking some other box.  The truth is the only role that creates value is the developer.  The way software has been split into multiple specialists has created more complexity and waste.  Even small changes can take weeks and months.  All in the name of process.

Today, when I work with a client I don’t even talk about standardization.  I talk about a customer’s interactions and aims, and organizational perspectives, beliefs and assumptions.  The first two help you see what the customer sees and that last three help you understand why you designed the work that way.  I call it a Model to Unlearn as part of the 95 Method – it is explained in the 95 Method video.

During this exercise, I typically will find where standardization is driving in avoidable demand (demand that customers don’t want to have and service organizations don’t want).  If I was talking about 1 or 2% that might be OK, but when you see 25, 50 – 80% you know there is something seriously wrong. The root of the problem is not all standard work, but it is certainly its brothers and sisters . . . scripts, rules, procedures, etc.  All these things create barriers between front-line worker and customer.  And many were created by management and support areas without worker input.

Instead, what I find works best is smartening up workers.  Learn the end-to-end system and the beliefs and assumptions that went into it.  Armed with knowledge, understanding and wisdom . . . workers can decide how best to design the work.  This is not what I see happening under any moniker (lean, six sigma, TQM, continuous improvement, etc), instead we get the “smart” people from support areas and management to make standardized work to control the worker.  Adding additional waste by inspecting them, pressuring compliance and then rewarding or disciplining them – how fun a job is that?  The worker I mean.

The key to me is that I don’t even bring up standardized work until the worker says, “It would be nice to have something that helps me do this.”  It is natural and unprovoked by outside influence – you won’t have to reward, discipline, inspect or seek compliance because the worker understands the need.  The added benefit is increase morale.

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 CallCenterIQReach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

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Service is a Box of Chocolates

You never know what you’re gonna get.

 

The standardization juggernaut continues to carve a deep path through service.  Improvement folks, IT, management, etc. continue to hitch their wagon to the standardization movement.  Complete with mind numbing audits and inspection to seek compliance.

It wouldn’t be so bad if the workers were “pulling” for standard work, but what I continue to see is folks not doing the work or even really have a clue about the work coming up with standard work and sending the audit police after the perpetrators.

However, this is only half the problem.  The other half is the problems you get if the processes look the same from location to location, but the demands are different.  Now you may be creating avoidable customer demands in the name of standardization.

Still another half (yes, I know I have used up my halves) say, “no kaizen without standard work” quoting Taiichi Ohno and the Toyota Production System (TPS) assuming manufacturing is the same as service . . . it is not.  Consider Forrest Gump and the box of chocolates, if the variety of demands is great or different by proximity forced standardization can create more problems (increased costs, lost customers, more mistakes, etc.).

Regardless, studying the effects of standardization before a massive roll-out is a good place to start.  Steps to standardization:

  1. Study customer interactions/demands and do this with workers that deal with customers/clients/patients/constituents.  Are they repeated over and over (like manufacturing)?  Probably not, but if they are then make sure the worker is asking for standard work – after all they have to use them.  Forced standardization will create zombie workers.
  2. Train on customer demands, not processes.  If workers are being trained, they need help to learn.  If 80-90% of the volume of demands are from just a few types of interactions then only train what they need to do them.  Leave out the IT system training, only train to what they need to handle what customers are asking for . . . the rest is waste.
  3. For the rest, customer-interacting workers are better to work to axiom and principles.  If you have a principle to “Do what is important to customers – that is reasonable.”  Workers will know what to do without having their minds checked at the door.  The workers engaged with customers have all the information needed and are in the best position to make a decision on what is best for the customer.  Once you restrict this with policies, rules and procedures or have to pass to managers you enter cost and waste.

 

Maybe I need a new slogan like:

“Friends don’t let friends standardize”

“When it absolutely, positively, has to be standardized let the workers do it.”

“A mind is a terrible thing to waste.  Don’t standardize.”

The tyranny of forced standardization without knowledge or worker input has to come to an end.  I hope it comes soon.

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 CallCenterIQReach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt. 

 

 

 

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Beliefs and Assumptions – How Damaging?

 

All too often, I hear the use of statistics like the clip from Anchorman (above).  People don’t quote percentages too often, but they do say things similar to, “most of our customers like . . .” or “that happens . . . all the time.”  The problem is what follows.  I have witnessed multi-million dollar IT and management decisions based on nothing more than a claim.  I am often assured that the claim came from a “good source.”

I do not believe that organizations do enough to challenge the beliefs and assumptions where decisions are made.  The skeptics often succumb to the hierarchy – meaning if the source of the belief or assumption is up the chain of command it can’t be questioned.

It’s funny to me that people get challenged on things like their expenses, but not on operational decisions of much greater magnitude.  Some degree of due diligence would seem to be appropriate.

Conversely, it seems silly to me that those conducting a due diligence will quote ROI numbers for new lines or IT.  Then, proceed to roll-out a large project without even a small scale pilot.

You see all projects and decisions are based in assumptions and beliefs.  Some we pick up from other people, companies, articles, etc. and others from internal sources of “authority.”  Assumptions and beliefs make up our world as we know it.  We just need to be aware of what they are and test them against reality.  You never get a full answer, but you do gain knowledge when you test things first.

The question is, “What are the beliefs and assumptions that went into your last strategic plan, project plan or decision?”  You should have a list of what they were when you made the decision or even better make the list AS you deliberate the next plan or project.  Test it on a small scale and then make a decision.  This is scientific method.

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 CustomermanagementIQ.comReach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

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The Era of Big Data is For Real

Usually, I am the first person to reject a new fad and it is quite possible that I am misreading what “Big Data” is all about.  However, the more I understand – once the hype is taken away – the more I come to realize that Big Data is here.  This post is to provide a brief overview of what I have found and believe.

Between the beginning of mankind and 2003 the world has accumulated somewhere between 3 to 12 exabytes (exabyte = 1 million terabytes) of data according to David Houle, author of Entering the Shift Age.  By 2010, we create in aggregate 3 exabytes every four days.  Information overload, anyone?

All of this data is not useful, but it is big.  The key will be to collect only those data that are useful.  I believe that this will bring in a new era of new knowledge.  Yes, a lot of it will be waste at the beginning.  However, as I look to the future and progress on collecting data we would previously have categorized as “unknown and unknowable.”

If you remember, it was W. Edwards Deming that spoke of data that are “unknown and unknowable” – meaning we really don’t have the data we need in organizations to make good decisions.  Things like what is the price of losing a customer and how would you measure it?  What is the cost of a disgruntled worker?  These would be categorized as “unknown and unknowable.”

I am not saying that we will have the best data to make 100% decisions, but as more data are collected in the Shift Age there will be additional shadows cast on data we did not have before.  Houle sees the rise of new jobs that are data purely data focused.  This is probably true, but how we go about finding and collecting the right data still seems the most worthwhile path.

What are your thoughts on Big Data?

Tripp Babbitt is a service design architect and organization futurist.  His organization helps service organizations understand future trends, culture and customer and design organizations based on new knowledge.  Read his column at Quality Digest and his articles for CustomermanagementIQ.com. Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.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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