Tag Archives: W. Edwards Deming

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

Share This:
facebooktwitterlinkedin

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

Share This:
facebooktwitterlinkedin

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.

Share This:
facebooktwitterlinkedin

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.

Share This:
facebooktwitterlinkedin

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.

Share This:
facebooktwitterlinkedin

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.

Share This:
facebooktwitterlinkedin

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.

 

 

 

Share This:
facebooktwitterlinkedin

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.

Share This:
facebooktwitterlinkedin

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.

Share This:
facebooktwitterlinkedin

Detailed Planning is Obsolete

“The unknown and unknowable” is a phrase Dr. Deming used to describe the knowledge needed to run a comp

English: Albert Einstein Français : portrait d...

English: Albert Einstein Français : portrait d'Albert Einstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

any perfectly.  Some view this statement as wishy-washy, especially those that believe the universe (or anything) can be explained.  This is old school . . . meaning that Einstein, Planck and many others have proven that there are things outside of our control.  Meaning, you just can’t plan for them.

Frederick Taylor would have loved the planning culture that exists today.  It would seem so tidy that everything could be predicted and plans could be made.  So few organizations spend the time they need to understand their own organizations as systems, customer-in.

Instead the top-down plans because they are written are set in stone.  Careers are put on the line when the plan and timeline to “hit the numbers” cascades through the organization.  Daily and weekly meetings to be sure everyone is “working to plan.”  No one can – the universe is unpredictable.

The “here and now” may not be as sexy as spending a week at some boondoggle where you can play golf and write a strategic plan. However, the results are much better when you live in a world of reality and  modern science.

One may find it more appealing that the world is not as predictable as business wants it  to be – you can always discover something new . . . if you look.

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.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Share This:
facebooktwitterlinkedin