Indiana Welfare Eligibility Modernization, Costs and Cynicism

Saturday, December 12, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt
I ran across a couple of documents I had not seen about what was going on before the failed Indiana Welfare Eligibility Modernization was into full swing.  A couple of documents are very telling about the mindset of the administration.  The first is from FSSA called Eligibility Modernization: The Need for Change and the second is an article that appeared in reason.org called Steering Not Rowing.

The FSSA document cited six reasons on why the welfare eligibility system needed to be changed.  They were:
  1. Worst record of welfare reform in the country
  2. High error rates
  3. Slow processes that fall short of federal guidelines and provide poor customer service
  4. Inconvenient access
  5. Lack of consistency
  6. Lack of tracking capabilities and proper accounting programs
In the article Steering Not Rowing former FSSA Secretary E. Mitchell Roob outlined the problems in light of forthcoming solutions:
  • Lack of a central accounting system
  • A paper-based system
  • A general rule based on theory that if you can find someone in the private sector doing a service that mirrors what the government is doing, chances are the private company is doing at much higher quality and a much lower cost.
  • Efficiency leads to costs savings.
The State of Indiana (in general) has spent a lot of time putting in systems to track costs.  They spent millions implementing a Peoplesoft system to do just this.  The problem is they have spent so little time looking at the causes of costs.  Tracking costs does nothing to improve them.  In fact, spending money on ways to identify costs adds to costs and that is waste.

FSSA would be better off spending time finding the causes of costs associated with the design and management of work.  They are in the system (structure, work design, measures, technology, management thinking, etc.) and end-to-end flow from a customer perspective.  Something that typical government management can’t or won’t see. 

The assumptions around technology, automation and "paper-less" systems is one I see killing government on a routine basis.  Technology companies are making lots of money and nothing is getting better. 

The problem is the work design and not the need for more technology.  We perpetuate poor work designs by adding technology or automating them.  For government management it is to lock in the costs of a bad design.

Front office/back office and functional designs aren’t questioned they are automated.  For example, worker A passes documents to worker B  and the decision is made to automate the process.  Do we need the hand-off or the document?  This goes unquestioned and if you think about it IT companies don’t want to get rid of a poor design.  A poor design means lots of front office/back office and functional designs and the more of these we have the more revenue IT companies get to automate them or make them paperless.

The premise that efficiency leads to cost savings is unfounded.  Government management needs to learn to be effective.  A focus on costs and efficiency usually drives sub-optimization.  This means that we drive costs down in one area, but total costs are driven up.

The public sector would be wise to see John Seddon’s "Law of Costs."  This is where government costs increase in proportion to the variety of demand.  The traditional design of government work is such that freedom must give way to efficiency . . . meaning the worker must be controlled.  The management paradox is that freedom by the worker is what gains efficiencies as the worker is best able to absorb the variety of demand that comes to government work. 

The ability to absorb variety by the worker requires less technology as only people can abosrb variety effectively.  Something that technology companies don’t want governments to understand.

Public sector innovation is possible, but it requires a new line of thinking about the design and management of work.  The State of Indiana and FSSA continues to miss opportunity as they are blinded by oversight thinking,  an obsession with technology and cynical view of the role of the worker.

We help government entities innovate through our unique approach to the design and management of work.  We can help you "see" the waste and sub-optimization of your systems and work with you to change management thinking and redesign.  To learn more go to www.thesystemsthinkingreview.com or contact the North American office at info.newsystemsthinking.com or (317)849-8670.

Driving Change in Government: Get Knowledge or Go Home

Monday, December 7, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt

Seems like each time I read something coming from the Ash Institute from Harvard, I am left shaking my head in disbelief.  It has now advanced to the point where I just accept that they will say things that defy all reality.  They can spin a web faster then any spider I know. 
In the latest travesty John O’Leary in Driving Change: Go Big or Go Home likens government to driving a bus where everyone has access to a brake.  Meaning anyone can kill any change program in government.  He uses this as an impetus to basically run over people to achieve change.
Get Knowledge!
With apologies to one of our fine educational institutions this is ridiculous.  What got us in the mess we are in today is our inability to seek knowledge before seeking change.  Government management can only make assumptions about one thing . . . that they need to get knowledge before introducing change.

The cost of not getting knowledge is to guarantee failure in any organizational change management program.  The result is higher costs, worse service and a poor culture.  The political spin of this has to be exposed as they administrations point to those costs that go down and not to the ones that increase due to this flawed approach.

Any new administration at any level of government management would be well-served to start by performing "check."  This means understanding the what and why of current performance.  Not to come in with pre-conceived notions, agendas, mandates, milestones, schedules and project plans. 

Further, Mr. Leary promotes the favorite of the Ash Institute which is cost cutting.  Even worse he promotes it as a top-down exercise.  Both of these again are command and control moves that increase government spending . . . let me explain.

Costs are often seen from activity and productivity numbers that are leading government management to take a shared services strategy or outsourcing.  What the fail to see is that cost are in the flow not the scale of activity (economies of flow).  To focus on costs increases them and instead we need government to focus on the causes of costs that are in the flow.

With respect to top-down implementation of a political agenda, we would be much better served to design our government systems from the outside-in.  This requires understanding demand while getting knowledge in "check."  When we don’t understand demand we stand to outsource failure demand (demand caused by a failure to do something or do something right for a customer) or share services that shouldn’t be shared.

I have found a better way (as opposed to top-down) is to get knowledge of the work and engaging government workers.  Rather than a small group by engaging employees we get far more ideas for innovation.  And larger changes are accepted because when we make decisions with the knowledge of the work we don’t alienate those that do the work. 

Think about it . . . would you rather have a small group innovating or the assistance of thousands to help facilitate change?  When you don’t make decisions with the work we wind up with SNAFU and FUBAR types of results and activities.

Workers engaged and understanding purpose and customer measures should be allowed to experiment with method.  This experimentation can lead to new methods and innovation.  New administrations would be wise to tap into this valuable resource pool.

Indiana has had a massive failure in the Welfare Modernization project they just cancelled with IBM.  Let’s not spin this any other way than a disaster that cost taxpayers money by not doing the things I have outlined above.  More approaches like this and we will continue to have to sell the public’s assets to meet the fiscal responsibilities of the state.

Join us for a new and better way to improve government at www.thesystemsthinkingreview.com

Leave me a comment. . . share your opinion!  Click on comments below.

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.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com "Understanding Your Organization as a System" and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

“Thinking Envy” – For Those Who Like to Standardize

Tuesday, December 1, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt

Thinking Envy
New articles on standardization are popping up everywhere.  Most suffer from what I call "Thinking Envy" – a phrase to describe the bewildered that don’t understand why standardization can do such damage. So, with apologies to some of my "Down Under" friends that seem mystified by the concept, let me continue.

The issue with standardization is that it cannot absorb the variety offered by customers in the service industry.  (Qualifier: Manufacturing is not my domain, so the Lean manufacturing folks won’t go crazy on me . . . I am talking about service)  People running around looking for ways to standardize work fail to understand customer demand in service.  Unlike manufacturing the variety in service is greater.

When variety cannot be absorbed, the customer experiences failure demand (demand caused by a failure to do something or do something right for a customer).  In my post, Disney: Another Disturbing IVR Experience I describe my inability to decipher the standardized IVR menu.  My having to call back adds to the time and frustration of dealing with Disney (failure demand).

It doesn’t end with Disney . . . scripts are written in call centers, software is developed with best practice, 5S and standard work are applied to service . . . and I can’t even replace fries with celery.  Service worsens and costs increases . . . the loss is unknown and unknowable , but technology companies claim self-service and other "savings" from the application. 

The funny thing about self-service is that the same companies then claim the need for CRM because they just don’t know their customers anymore . . . oh boy!  Must be nice to be a technology company, they can sell both ends of the spectrum and usually do. 

The use of procedures and standards are to control behavior of the front-line.  They add costs as inspection and monitoring accompany the standardization effort.  We wind up doing work to the "right" standards, but this is not the same as doing the right thing.  The result is more resources and less thinking.

Add standardization with targets and we wind up with total dysfunction.  Yet, this is the way of the world . . . but it doesn’t have to be . . . you have a choice.

So those that suffer from "thinking envy" you can be cured.  If we understand customer purpose and design against demand we are well on our way to reducing costs, improving service and managing better.  This is a good systems thinking approach done with the worker and the work and I might add a better leadership strategy as an improved culture is the result.

Leave me a comment. . . share your opinion!  Click on comments below.

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.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com "Understanding Your Organization as a System" and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.
 

The Role of a Manager in Service Organizations and Government

Monday, November 30, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt

As I was working with a client last week, I reflected on the role of a manager in a systems thinking environment.  If we are to improve the design and management of work . . . the way we manage must change.  This should be seen as an opportunity to a more efficient and compassionate leadership strategy.
Management
Taking an outside-in approach we squarely place ourselves in alignment with the customer.  There is no need to manage the financials as this will take care of itself when the customer is the center of our thoughts.  Taking our minds away from cost control to focus on the causes of costs.

Organizational change management with all the restructuring that leads to new programs and no improvement, gives way to focus management attention on the work.  A far cry from the report-driven and anecdotal method embraced by today’s command and control style of management.  Silos become non-existent as doing what is right for the customer delivers value rather than turf battles.

Measurement derived from customer purpose replaces the functional targets set from the quarterly dividend, financial forecast or budget.  Managers are instead looking at how capable they are at meeting customer demand and the measures that matter to customers. 

Meetings related to making sure the customer or supplier are adhering to contracts written, instead look at a systemic review of "what matters" to customers and create a cooperative environment.  Working together with suppliers and other managers to act on the system to improve flow rather than manage people and budgets.

Managers and workers learning together how to (first) understand current performance and learn what matters to customers.  We move from a reactive environment to an adaptive one.  Change is emergent as workers and managers try new methods to improve the work and innovation through better design.  Rewarded with the desire to learn more and continue the cycle.

Our need to redesign the way manager’s manage should be at the top of our 2010 to-do list.  Is your service organization or government ready for real change?

 

Leave me a comment. . . share your opinion!  Click on comments below.

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.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com "Understanding Your Organization as a System" and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

 

New Thinking for Auto Dealerships

Monday, November 23, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt

Ortynsky CarI was in Canada last week working with two auto dealerships, one in Yorkton, SK and the other in Winnipeg.  These are not just any auto dealerships.  They are run by an innovative and forward-thinking owner named Terry Ortynsky.

Mr. Ortynsky has been working on systems thinking for a little over a year.  His tinkering with the concept during that time has led him to fully commit.  He sees systems thinking as a way to build a better auto dealership.

The Ortynsky dealerships had long fashioned their work to be customer-friendly like so many other dealers.  The difference being the action he has taken to live this principle.  Mr. Ortynsky doesn’t pay his salespeople by commission, they are paid by salary so that when sales are made they are in the best interest of the customer.

His commitment and belief that doing things in the best interest of the customer in sales and service led him to systems thinking.  He understands that by focusing the design and management of work to serve the customer will decrease costs, improve service and achieve a culture that people want to work in. 

Despite pressure from the manufacturers to submit to targets and other dysfunctional behavior, the Ortynsky automotive groups are focused on creating a better customer experience.  They are in the process of improving the customer experience by understanding the "what and why" of current performance and "what matters" to their customers.  This will lead to a system of continual redesign as employees are engaged at all levels to find new ways to serve customers.

A better leadership strategy (especially innovation leadership) can now be found in a car dealership.  Mr. Ortynsky and his folks are on a mission to serve the people of Canada though better service and thinking . . . for sure.

Leave me a comment. . . share your opinion!  Click on comments below.

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.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com "Understanding Your Organization as a System" and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.
 

John Ketzenberger – You’re Working on the Wrong Problem!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt

State Revenue = Taxes lest we forget
I caught John Ketzenberger on the Gerry Dick’s Indiana Business Review this past Sunday (10/18) talking about how to get more revenue for the State of Indiana.  I have long admired John’s writing in the Indianapolis Business Journal and The Indianapolis Star.  He has an Indiana Conservative bend to him and tries hard to be balanced in his reporting.

With his move to The Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute in September, I was a bit disappointed that the topic was how to tax more services and how we compared to other states in taxing these services.  I guess I see things differently, as I believe the burning question as how do we provision services more cost effectively so as not to have to raise taxes.

I always struggle with the word "revenue" to replace the word "taxes" when it comes to government.  This must be the new reality.  Remember when we had money and these things weren’t an issue?  Or even the time when we didn’t have to go to other countries to beg for jobs?  Those were the days . . . I digress.

I would much rather see the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute help find ways to help provision services better.  The waste is costly whether privatized, outsourced or government run.  Other countries are finding ways to provision services less expensively with better thinking about the design and management of work. 

This may lead you (John) to find out why they are being so successful and bring new thinking to government through your research.  Entrenched government management may not be open to new ideas otherwise.  And in these times we could use some new ideas on greater effectiveness in government.

With this approach you won’t have to continually be creative in the new taxation arena, because it will require less (hmmmm) "revenue."  Public sector innovation and working on provisioning services better and with less tax dollars is certainly a more attractive option.

 
Leave me a comment. . . share your opinion!  Click on comments below.

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.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com "Understanding Your Organization as a System" and gain knowledge of systems thinking or our international government services www.thesystemsthinkingreview.co.uk[email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt
 
   Contact us about our intervention services at

The Great Government Modernization Caper

Monday, October 19, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt

Modenization Caper
It’s like a bad movie that seems to get replayed in every city, state, or federal government.  It starts with strategic intent and political bravado that turns to a feeling of malaise.  That uneasiness that accompanies you when you know things aren’t just right.

For me it has always been that technology just can’t deliver the goods promised.  No matter what the industry I have worked in doing consulting work the mantra remains the same.  We can automate it, there’s way too much paper or manual processing. 

Seems plausible to anyone seeking to modernize the work that is being done.  If you are in government management you know that is where the money comes from to modernize via the use of technology.  After all, this is what public sector innovation is all about.

Yet, this is the great technology caper.  We spend millions to modernize and yet services continue to become more expensive and provide us with worse service.  The hype just doesn’t live up to the value.

The issue is not technology in and of itself, but the fact it is not the biggest lever for improvement.  The design and management of work is our opportunity.  Government management has pieced together a system comprised of front/back offices, redundancy, handoffs, queues, multiple sorts and other bad designs that don’t need to be automated, but redesigned.  Technology just locks in the waste if the system isn’t designed well.

But that is not the end of the story as just redesigning systems isn’t enough.  We must rethink the management of the work and the way we increase complexity to inspect in quality rather than fix the problem or put in targets that create sub-optimization and waste.  It doesn’t stop there either . . . mandates, legislation and other mis-guided efforts have led to a financial infrastructure that our US tax base is unwilling to continue to bear the weight.

The great modernization caper has to include a willing participant or at least an ignorant one.  As grasping at straw men like shared services, automation and outsourcing is certainly better than doing nothing (which it is not).  Attractive ideas that really have no way of helping.

As we enter this age of provisioning services with less and less "revenue" from the taxpayer base.  We are in need of better thinking about how these services are delivered.  Let’s just not get carried away with the technology.

Leave me a comment. . . share your opinion!  Click on comments below.

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.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com "Understanding Your Organization as a System" and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.


 

The Case Against Shared Services

Friday, October 9, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt

I know I have posted on this several times, but when I googled "the case against shared services" I only found IT companies that stand to profit from shared services and their case for shared services.  The truth must be known.

Whether you are in the public or private sector a shared services strategy is a short-sighted one when the driver is to reduce costs.  Management by the visible numbers has long become a staple and this is a bad habit that just keeps increasing costs.

The management paradox is that when we set out to reduce costs as our focus, we wind up increasing the costs.  Shared services comes from this mindset.  If we combine like work we can save our business, country, state, or town money.  It’s a no-brainer and they are correct (in part) . . . they lack a brain.

Whether administrative functions, call centers, back office or other assorted combinations, people need to understand that costs come from flow and not activity or scale.  In short, economies of scale is a myth.

Here are some potential problems (thanks to John Seddon of Vanguard for these) with shared services:
  • Moving the work to a central location removes continuity.
  • The creation of waste from handoffs, rework and duplication.
  • It lengthens the time to deliver the service.
  • It increases the amount of failure demand (demand caused by a failure to do something or do something right for a customer.
  • The Front-Back Office design is not always the best design for the work.

What we need to do instead is understand that the design and management of work is in question.  This requires understanding our organizations as systems by performing check (from the Vanguard Method) where we understand the what and why of current performance. 

Starting with an understand of customer purpose and demand, deriving customer measures from purpose an organization can improve services first.  Based on knowledge gained from "check" an organization can determine whether or not sharing services makes sense.  Making decisions about shared services from knowledge is always a better way.  Don’t you think?

Leave me a comment. . . share your opinion!  Click on comments below.

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.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com "Understanding Your Organization as a System" and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

 

Shared Services Faces a One-Man Attack in New Jersey’s Brick Township

Friday, October 9, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt

Joe the Lion
To many "Joe the Plumber" is their hero.  For me it is Joe Lamb of Brick Township in New Jersey.  Joe "the Lion" Lamb (hey, I can have nicknames for my heroes too) is challenging shared services in his township and more . . . he is challenging the conventional wisdom that it is the right thing to do.

I was forwarded a link to the Brick Township Bulletin titled "Shared services revenue easy to follow, reader says."  The reader along with the Mayor and Business Administrator deem it bizarre that "Joe the Lion" would challenge such savings that anyone can see.

The Business Administrator walked the reader through the almost $300,000 in "savings" from shared services.  The problem here is that the "visible" figures in which governments are managed don’t represent the true costs as they are end-to-end and in the flow.  It may very well be that the shared services strategy has increased costs when we look at the end-to-end costs. 

And "Joe the Lion" was asked if he was familiar with municipal accounting practices or budget law.  "Joe the Lion" responded "no" to each during a council meeting.  The writer challenges that a township certainly doesn’t want to elect such an official.  I would submit "Joe the Lion" is probably the best candidate because he doesn’t understand these things.

"Joe the Lion" may understand that efficiency doesn’t necessarily make you effective.  More importantly, that shared services done without an understanding of customer demand and service flow will indeed increase costs.  But cash-strapped governments searching for savings wind up increasing costs with shared services.  In a management paradox . . . to focus on costs increases them. 

Moving work to a central (shared) location removes the continuity of the flow, creates waste (hand-offs, rework, duplication), lengthens the time to deliver the service and creates failure demand (demand caused by a failure to do something or do something right for a customer). 

The financials will show savings (lower costs) while the failure costs will be on another budget.  It won’t be long before managers deprived of local support will find ways to recreate it.  Thus increasing the costs even more.

For governments big and small looking at shared services, consider these dos and don’ts and consider economies of flow (not scale).  These offer larger opportunities for improvement than management by the numbers.

For the reader/writer your final question, "Can the taxpayers afford to have council members and mayors who don’t know about municipal budgets?"  The answer is a resounding . . . YES!!!!  And "Joe the Lion" may just be "Joe the Fox" . . . Hmm.

Leave me a comment. . . what do you think?!  Click on comments below.

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.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com "Understanding Your Organization as a System" and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.
 


Innovation without Technology

Thursday, October 1, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt


Let me take you back to a simpler time when people helped people.  I’m not talking about Little House on the Prairie times, but probably late-70s and early 80s where computers began to dominate the scene.  Since this time our fascination and zombie-like attitude toward information technology (IT) has continued . . . at great cost.

A combination of media, business and government  with unbridled exuberance has done nothing to . . . well, keep things in perspective.  When improvement is needed we turn to technology.  Innovation leadership can not be achieved without IT, correct?  Wrong, and not just wrong but costly wrong.

In our collective psyche we have managed to place IT on such a pedestal it has become a dominate industry, more so than the industries to which they serve.  But in a management paradox, IT has failed to deliver in many cases.  And I am not just talking about missed schedules and cost over-runs.

The problem is that in our rush to go paperless (never happened) and automate (not always a good idea), we lost track of the ability to design and manage work optimally.  The current thinking of outsourcing, shared services, business analytics, Business Process Management, IVRs would never have been possible without Information Technology.  But one question never seems to get asked, "Since IT can, should it?"

I have to say a resounding NO is in order.  In fact, I would submit to you that larger gains in innovation can be achieved through better thinking around the design and management of work and pulling IT into the work as needed is more in order.  Then maybe, just maybe we can learn that cost reduction and business improvement can come from better thinking and not IT.

Leave me a comment. . . share your opinion!  Click on comments below.

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.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com "Understanding Your Organization as a System" and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.




 

The Great Customer Barrier – The Interactive Voice Response System (IVR)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt

Frustrated CustomerI have posted many times on this subject, yet as companies find ways to "save money" they turn to technology that increase costs, makes customers shake their heads and take actions that make companies more unprofitable and less competitive.  Really, enough with the snake-oil and one of the worse technologies ever invented . . . the IVR.

But everybody has one (whining).  Sorry, time to fess up, pay the piper and get real.  Customers hated them when they first came out and hate them today.

A better customer management process does not have to include the IVR system.  I know everyone has one, but really.  You don’t need one and it does not save you money.  It is nothing more than a poor sorting process in the best cases and chases away customers in the worst cases.

Contact center executives continue to believe  that that separating the calls to specialists is a good idea so that customers get the right answers, but getting to that specialist is a journey through hell for the customer. IVRs (as with all technology) has to standardize things in the menu options.  What is not realized is that customers may have a variety of problems and I have to talk to several different specialists as a customer.  This is wasteful for both customer and service organization.

I have a better solution.  Service organizations should study customer demand and purpose from the customer perspective.  Derive customer measures from this purpose and redesign the system to accommodate variety of demand offered by customers.  While you are doing this at least offer the customer an option to talk to a human.  Humans a better able to absorb variety offered in service.

Redesigning against customer demand will help achieve corporate cost reduction and business improvement.  The management paradox here is that as service improves, costs will fall.  Happy customers are less expensive to take care of and when you do take care of them they will come back for more.

Leave me a comment. . . What’s your opinion?!  Click on comments below.

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.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com "Understanding Your Organization as a System" and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

 

Call Center Coaching: When is it Counterproductive?

Sunday, August 30, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt
I see this talked about everywhere I go.  The call center representative (CSR) that needs to be coached.  The "managers of people" one has been asked to become can drive you to coach people.  When training someone new they can be coached, there’s an operational definition we can live with in a call center atmosphere.  Most would call this training.

The type of "coaching" I see is of the prescription kind.  You know, he/she didn’t hit the numbers or targets as prescribed by management.  You AHT is a little high this month we need to have a coaching session with the violater.  What managers lack is an understanding of variation and its impact on systems.  The first is that 95% of organizational performance is attributable to the system the CSR works in . . . meaning the technology, work design, management roles, structure, procedures, etc will have more of an impact than the indivdual (5%).  Further, once an indivdual reaches statistical control (see Service Metrics: What You Need to Understand) it does not good to continue to train or coach.  It is to take the wrong action and only frustrates the worker and demoralize the culture.  This presents a management paradox for many.

Most metrics I see used in call centers are not helpful for anything other than resource planning.  The prescribed methods of number of calls, average handle time and service levels tell us virtually nothing about the performance of the system.  Better (end-to-end measures) that cross functions are more useful in seeing things from a customer perspective.  But wait, that would mean individual coaching sessions become meaningless . . . Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!  Coaching is highly over-rated in the improvement of either system performance or individual performance. Call center management would be better off taking a systems thinking approach.

New Thinking About Layoffs and RIFs

Thursday, August 6, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt
OK, I’ll come clean.  It really isn’t "new" thinking.  I got it from The New Economics written by W, Edwards Deming.  In the United States, the dividend is the last thing cut (typically).  We will lay off people before cutting the dividend.  In Japan, the worker is the last to take the hit and rarely do they cut positions.  Consider what Deming outlined in the steps Japanese companies take (from The New Economics):
  1. Cut the dividend.  Maybe cut it out.
  2. Reduce the salaries and bonuses of top management.
  3. Further reduction for top management.
  4. Last of all, the rank and file are asked to help out.  People that do not need to work may take a furlough.  People that can take an early retirement may do so, now.
  5. Finally, if necessary, a cut in pay for those that stay, but no one loses a job.

Wow, quite a difference than the thinking in the US.  First sign of trouble with most US companies and the heads start rolling.  Can this be good for our overall economy or the state of our nation.  All those folks that complain about the inefficiency of the government we keep forcing people to use the government for unemployment checks, food stamps, medicaid, etc.  And by the way, more houses get foreclosed on and lessen our property values.

Toyota continues to stave off layoffs.  Who will be better off when the economy comes back?  The company that laid off a bunch of people and have to rehire and train or the company that hung on to workers?  Seems like a simulation game I played while getting my MBA.

I hear conversations from executives saying that we only laid-off the "dead wood" so this gave us a chance to clean house.  So, in the words of W. Edwards Deming, "Did you hire the wrong people or just kill’em?"  Meaning what part of your system hired the wrong people or is your system so poorly put together that no one could survive it.  Regardless, maybe executives should find a better leadership strategy.  With all the waste I see in organizations maybe a better idea for business cost reduction is finding better ways to manage and design the work.

Leave me a comment. . . I can take it!  Click on comments below.

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.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com "Understanding Your Organization as a System" and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at in[email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

 

A Fundamental Thinking Problem

Friday, July 31, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt
I have been a part of many "discussions" this week.  Most of them around my posts that challenge conventional wisdom on things such as best practices, targets and incentives.  I usually find that people conclude that organizations just aren’t using it (technology, measures, rewards, etc.) right or people are to blame (stupid people).  When I suggest it may have to do something with the way we think about the design and management of work . . .  the response is some variation of "no, that isn’t it."

But that is it!
We are putting all of our resources into the wrong things. Like:
  • inspection and monitoring believing they make quality services
  • the belief that economies of scale will reduce costs
  • the belief incentives will motivate people
  • leaders need visions
  • managers need targets
  • technology to drive change

Businesses and government have become dysfunctional based on flawed thinking.  A better way to think about the design of work . . . we reference as systems thinking.  By taking people to the work and getting knowledge we can show them new ways to improve and it exposes problems to the way they currently think.  It is that shift in thinking, but egos and position get in the way.  The (typical) US mindset inhibits us from admitting mistakes in our thinking and moving on.  One is left to ask,"How could I have been so wrong about the design and management of work?"  It is to admit failure from some people’s mindset.

The Better way, you may never have heard of
The ability to discard thoughts of failure in favor of learning is a fine line.  Can we not learn or was that only for when we were in college?  The management paradox of new thinking may be the decider.


The above table offers a change to the fundamental thinking we have all been taught as the best way.  Our only hope is to continue to improve the way we think about the design and management of work.  There will always be a better way to do something.

The wonderful thing that happens as we change thinking is that we are given the ability to improve exponentially.  The improvements are large and will give any organization employing it an unprecedented competitive advantage in improving service, cutting costs, improving culture and innovation opportunities.

Looking for strategic change management that gives you wholesale business improvement requires a change to the fundamental thinking about work and how irt is managed.

Leave me a comment. . . I can take it!  Click on comments below.

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.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com "Understanding Your Organization as a System" and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

 

Skeuomorphs

Saturday, July 25, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt
Peter Scholtes passed away on July 11th.  I remember attending (at least) two of his seminars that he put on in Indianapolis.  He was a very approachable and kind man that wrote two books that were classics . . . The Team Handbook and The Leader’s Handbook

Skeuomorph was a name he presented in The Leader’s Handbook as "an activity or artifact that continues in use long after its original purpose has disappeared."  The example that was used was the granddaughter asking the grandmother why her mother cuts the shank of the ham to put it in the oven when the original purpose for doing so was because the ovens were smaller when the grandmother cooked.  But the tradition continued from generation to generation even though the purpose for doing so had long disappeared.  Similar traditions in business have long been followed even though the purpose has long been proven to be old thinking, but still followed.  Let’s look at the list:
  • targets and other management by results techniques
  • incentives, rewards and performance appraisals for managing people
  • reliance on inspection for quality
  • paying attention to the individual will improve performance of the organization
  • financial and productivity measures used to drive improvement
  • scientific management theory
  • making decisions about the work separate from the work
  • using financial reports as a way to improve the business
  • believing manufacturing and service can be treated the same when variety of demand separates the two
  • copying another organization’s processes and methods for best practice
There are many more than the above list, the problem is we need to break the tradition of poor thinking that is wasting resources.  The skeuomorphs have become like a bad tic that is uncontrollable, but the leadership strategy is to continue to ignore the thinking problem that prevails.  Something like in Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Suit . . . who will be the first to tell the emperor that he has no clothes?

We are not the first to travel down this path: W. Edwards Deming, Taiichi Ohno, John Seddon and many others like Peter Scholtes spent their careers trying to change the thinking for a better path to prosperity and profitability.  But it is a road less traveled with much work left to do.  In memory of Peter Scholtes, the path he cleared for many will be long remembered and God willing . . . . eventually widened and paved.

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.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com "Understanding Your Organization as a System" and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

Zappos’ Achilles Heel

Wednesday, July 1, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt
First of all, let’s not look at the cup as half empty for Zappos, because I believe it is two-thirds full.  At the Economist Marketing Forum held in San Francisco this year Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay) and two CMO’s from Del Monte and Frito Lay discussed the role of marketing in their organizations amongst other things (watch: Ties That Must Bind: Why CEOs Rely on CMOs More Than Ever).  The poor guys in the traditional roles of CMOs (by function) had to listen to Tony say that they really didn’t have a marketing function at Zappos.  They reinvested into customer service and the better service was the marketing for Zappos.  I thought the others would spontaneously combust.

So yes, there is much to like about Zappos.  Let me highlight a few other comments Tony Hsieh made that got my attention:
  • Our culture (of customer service) is our brand
  • Investment of surprise upgrades to customers
  • Repeat customers from word-of-mouth (pull, not push)
  • Investment in culture is not an immediate benefit like cutting costs, long-term thinking is necessary
  • The use of the telephone as a branding device
  • Allowing new hires to weed themselves out by offering significant money ($2,000) if they quit
  • A lot of emphasis in getting the right people in the organization
  • Leadership development and training
So why the heading about the "Achilles Heel"?  What could possibly better than this.  I got concerned when Tony started to talk about:
  • Low Performers (and how they weeded out "Jack Welch" style the low 8%).  I don’t know the nature of the 8% and it could be they hired the wrong people before they "improved" the hiring process.  But it brings up questions about having already invested in training and Tony said they were profitable when they did it and didn’t have to do fire the 8%.  Who says that if they dip back into the pool of people available that they will find better employees than the ones they just let go and now they have to be trained.  This "renewal" process is expensive.
  • Call Monitoring.  Call monitoring has a useful purpose if the agent is new or if the monitoring is for improvement efforts.  Regulatory compliance is waste, but required and doesn’t always require monitoring that’s just they way people interpret it.  Otherwise, call monitoring used as inspection comes too late and is costly.  if the other elements like culture, hiring the right people, management thinking, etc. are correct do I really need to inspect?
  • Performance Appraisal.  I was disappointed to hear that performance appraisal was being used.  My fear is that the worker is being managed command and control style. If I understand purpose "to serve the customer" what possible good can come from an appraisal of performance.  It distracts the worker from "serving the customer" to "serving my supervisor or manager" or could over time . . . this is a type of waste.
  • Financial Goals.  If this means targets for profits  that lead to scorecards, MBO or the like trouble is not far away.  The targets (financial or performance) will ultimately become the defacto purpose of the organization and customer service will become secondary to the target.
  • Failure Demand.  How many phone calls are they getting that are follow-ups, wrong shipments, wrong billing, problems with the product, etc?  This is failure demand and even if you have nice people and good service if failure demand runs high customers will eventually erode their advantage and go elsewhere.  So, what percentage of calls are failure demand?
  • Do they understand variation?  Do they understand when a worker is statistically different from other workers?  Do they understand how to use data for prediction?  Do they understand the difference between "special" and "common" causes of variation that will help them continually improve their organization.
  • How will they achieve continual or continuous improvement?  "By what method" will they improve.  Will command and control or will systems thinking prevail in their business improvement efforts?
I know he didn’t talk about the last three, but these are things that will play themselves out over time.  There is much for Zappos to be proud of in its inception-to-date achievements and I can only hope that continue to maintain that innovation leadership that they have on their side now.

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.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com "Understanding Your Organization as a System" and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

Outsourcing Call Centers

Sunday, June 28, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt
There are many reasons I don’t like the idea of calls centers being outsourced, so let’s outline the reasons why.
  1. Branding.  Customers see your organization through who they come in contact with and organizations reducing costs fail to realize that can have a big effect.  Dell is probably the best recent example, the outsourcing has cost their brand dearly.  As a former Dell customer I was always frustrated with dealing with customer service.
  2. Outsourcing Waste.  Probably my largest objection and originally pointed out to me by my Vanguard partners (UK).  Call centers have a large percentage of failure demand 25% to 75% of all calls.  These are calls that are problems, call backs from incomplete answers, follow-ups, missed appointments, etc.  If we eliminated this type of demand we would have fewer calls and happier customers.  Companies need to eliminate this failure demand before outsourcing call centers.  Otherwise we lock in the cost of the waste.
  3. Costs are not in transactions, they are in the flow.  Most people see transaction costs go down with outsourcing . . . true.  What they fail to see is not only the failure demand they are outsourcing are costly, but that the customer sees service end-to-end and not by function.  Too often already bad flow (end-to-end or systemic flow) is outsourced increasing the number of transactions at great cost.  You see cost savings are not gained through economies of scale, but through economies of flow.
  4. Failure to see that SLAs, inspection and monitoring are costs that rise in outsourcing.  Outsourcing contracts become full of SLAs that have little or no relation to the customer experience, as vendors seek measures that they can "control."  These metrics are never representative of the end-to-end metrics customers seek.  SLAs are by function not the end-to-end as they become too difficult for the outsourcing vendor.  Someone can very well be hitting the SLA for their outsourced call center while overall costs increase and customer service deteriorates.  Inspection and monitoring increases as the service deteriorates and costs continue to escalate.
     
  5. Even non-core competencies are part of your system.  An argument I hear often is that call centers are not part of the companies core competency.  Other than the branding argument, being a specialist in a function can be a big disaster.  We live the belief that optimizing a piece optimizes the whole . . . it does not.  It is how all the components of the system work together is where cost savings come from.  The optimization of one piece usually leads to sub-optimization of other parts of the system.  Example, I can reduce handle time by not getting all the information needed to transact business causing chaos in the rest of the system with errors and more calls.
  6. Loss of innovation and feedback loops.  Innovation leadership comes from the ability to leverage all parts of the system to optimize the whole.  The front-line worker (call center) has the best ears to hear opportunities to improve service and/or product.  Tied down with SLAs, scripts, monitoring, etc. inhibits the front-line as their purpose becomes to meet the target and not the customer needs.  Feedback that helps optimize the system are usually targeted to optimize the function and systemic feedback is lost.
I urge any organization that is considering outsourcing to look first at their own system and understand the what and why of current performance before outsourcing.  If you have already outsourced or you are an outsourcing vendor I urge you to find ways to work together to optimize the system.  This will require new thinking in your outsourcing strategy for call centers.  We often find in working with call center management ways to optimize the system before outsourcing through business improvement . . . and for outsourcing vendors there are better ways to partner.  There is much at stake because if the outsourcer dies the outsourcing company stands to die with it.

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.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com "Understanding Your Organization as a System" and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

Systems Thinking: A Personal Affront?

Friday, June 26, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt
Some of my posts have caught the eye of several folks who have decided that my blogs are a personal affront.  Most of these people, I don’t even know . . . but they write like they do.  They are offended or even irked  by my posts.  I don’t believe I have attacked any one person ( I have mentioned a few) or any one company (ditto), but most of my writing has been about the thinking of those people or companies.  I don’t blame them for thinking in a command and control manner, what I aim to do is point out that there are better ways of thinking . . . for me that is systems thinking as defined by the likes of W. Edwards Deming, Taiichi Ohno and John Seddon.  An American, a Japanese and a Brit, I’m sure there is a joke in there somewhere.

There is a history here that tells me that we are not evolving and learning in the US.  Sub-optimization and waste is rampant.  This waste is as disgusting as any of the nastiest scum at the bottom of the barrel, sewage treatment plant or the the flatulence of Uncle Bill at Thanksgiving.  We all seem to react the same way by ignoring the unsightly scum, smell or Uncle Bill.  Organizations come up with new change management  programs that amount to no more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic . . . might feel like you are doing something important, but in the end the ship sinks.

As a self-declared "reformed" Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt I have witnessed many "real" improvements, "show" improvements, "no" improvements and way too many "we thought we were improving, but we were really only making things worse" improvements.  The problem I witnessed was that the "real" improvements were compromised by later executive thinking that undid what was just improved (no sustainability) because of command and control thinking.  "Show" and "no" improvements were made to be sure that a project showed savings even if they weren’t real.  But my favorite was always the category of "we thought we were improving, but we were really only making things worse" improvements where we would sub-optimize one part of the system for "savings" only to make things worse somewhere else in the system, making one/function/team/company hit their target and one (or more) others miss theirs.  This can not be helpful.

So, the options were to stand idly by and continue to know the truth and not act or do something about it.  I chose to act, communicate, blog post, tweet, and speak to find other voices that have found the same thing.  Along the way, someone will be offended as belief systems are being challenged.  Writing and speaking against the assumptions around outsourcing, shared services, IVRs, technology, targets, incentives, scientific management theory and other damaging beliefs are bound to grab the ire of many (if not most) people.  Some because their livelihoods depend on it, some because they can’t imagine a better way or that they have been doing something wrong for all these years.  The reality is to me it is not so much that they were doing it wrong, just that is the way they knew, now there is better thinking and there will be something beyond this thinking.

The great part about systems thinking is that I can show you in your system why command and control thinking doesn’t work as well.  As this requires an unlearning and re-education where the work happens not just in a classroom.  The risk of being caustic far outweighs the benefit an organization can capture from new 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.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com "Understanding Your Organization as a System" and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

Improving Government in the US

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt
The application of systems thinking in government is being well-documented by my Vanguard partners and you can witness the improvements yourself by going to www.thesystemsthinkingreview.co.uk.  This is a great resource for local, city, state and federal government.  The debate wages on how big or small government should be, but whatever side you stand on, services still have to be provisioned. And it is in our best interest to provision them with the least amount of cost and improved service.  I have established in previous posts that there is no trade off between good service and costs.  If you improve service costs will go down . . . this is a government management paradox (read: The Zero-Sum Game:A Loser’s Mentality).

The problems with services provisioned by the government are many.  Too much focus on reducing costs, that in another paradox only increases them because we manage by visible costs alone, but it is the invisible costs that can’t be seen (the ones in the flow).  The types of wastes outlined by John Seddon in Systems Thinking in the Public Sector hold true for the US Government:
  1. The costs of people spending time writing specifications.
  2. The costs of inspection.
  3. The costs of preparing for inspections.
  4. The costs of the inspections being wrong.
  5. The costs of demoralization
The functional separation of work conceived by FW Taylor 100 years ago still drives thinking in both the private and public sector.  This thinking along with technology leads to such foolishness as outsourcing that increase costs in the pursuit of transaction cost reduction.  This productivity mindset fails to look at the end-to-end costs (or total costs) by lowering the cost of a function or transaction leading to avoiding opportunities to reduce total demand (because most of it is unwanted or failure demand).  Outsourcing is not possible with technology, so we both outsource waste and lock it in with technology.

Shared services fares no better, the idea is to achieve economies of scale and reduce transaction costs.  The problem is that costs are reduced by economies of flow (not scale).  We typically get the double-whammy of shared services and outsourcing where we are allowing our government to contract out our waste and add to it in many cases.  Most of the waste in shared services is because government management has separated the work into front office-back office or skilled – simple (functional or transactional).  A better way is to design against demand where the variety produced by service can be absorbed.

Another waste is targets set in government.  Targets become the defacto purpose of government agencies, creating measures that sub-optimize by focusing on compliance and provide poor service by restricting method.  The purpose should be to provision services against customer demand, finding measures that matter to understanding and improving the work, and liberating method.  This liberation of method achieves government innovation by allowing government managers to be responsible and choose what to do free from compliance.

The conversation will continue, and we will need to try new methods to improve the way the US Government provisions services.  Otherwise, new ways are restricted and costs increase in an over-burdened 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.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com "Understanding Your Organization as a System" and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

Call Center KPIs, Metrics and Measures

Monday, June 22, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt
I have been reading about call center KPIs, metrics and measures for several weeks now and I still walk away shaking my head.  Most service organizations are working on the wrong measure and worse working on the wrong problem.  Some of the metrics may be useful to know how to resource, but none hit the real problem in making things better.  For the command and control thinker these metrics are a dream as they can analyze themselves into oblivion . . . and usually do.

We have all types of metrics. Like:
  • Cost/Contact
  • Cost/Minute of Handle Time
  • Call Quality
  • Agent Occupancy
  • Training Hours
  • Absenteeism
  • Average Speed of Answer (ASA)
  • Call Abandonment Rate
  • IVR Completion Rate
  • Average Hold Time
  • % answered within 30 seconds
  • Average Handle Time
  • Talk Time
  • After Call Work Time
Most of this measurement tracking is a waste of time and resources.  The customer could care less about these metrics and the only one that matters to them is did you solve their issue.  I am always amazed that call centers spend so much time tracking data (and mostly unimportant data at that) and so little time improving the system they work in.  The response is usually, "but we can only be responsible for our call center, not sales or operations that is not our job" or "we can only do our part and hope that everyone else is doing theirs."  This is the stuff of poor customer service everyone "doing their job" while the customer suffers the end-to-end system.  Command and control thinkers love to collect data, inspect phone calls, and figure costs . . . but no one looks at what the customer demands.  The result is a sub-optimized system that provides no business improvement, higher costs, and a sweat shop culture.  WOW! sign me up . . . I want to work in that environment (sarcasm).

There is a better way.  The systems thinking organization understand that the only metric that matters are those important to the customer (defined from purpose).  Sure the first call resolution (FCR) is useful when applied with knowledge, but the metrics that really matter to the customer are end-to-end from the customer perspective and may cross several functions in their current state.  Very few service organizations understand this.  They pay attention to each function building structures of front office, middle office and back office and then constantly redesigning them into shared services or outsourcing.  All of this activity is done with the aim of saving money and all of these activities typically increase costs . . . a management paradox I have discussed in other blogs.  All the sub-optimization increases costs and waste.

Most call centers still are not tracking one metric that does matter to customers . . . failure demand.  The unwanted demand into the call center that represents 25% – 75% of all calls into any one call center.  Failure demand are calls that are problems, follow-ups and other annoying calls that customers have to make to get served.  Failure demand drives up costs and drives out customers.  I am grateful to John Seddon (my Vanguard partner) for pointing this out to me.  Eliminating failure demand increases capacity, reduces costs and makes customers happy.

By understand the relationship between Purpose, Measures and Method.  A systems thinking organization soon learns that the purpose is to serve the customer, we can then derive metrics important to the customer and allow changes to method to accomplish the measures.  No targets here, just continually improvement of service.  Let your competition get buried in the cost of command and control thinking with their benchmarking, KPIs, and metrics/measures that don’t matter.  A systems thinking organization understands this is just waste and sub-optimization and allows them to work on customer problems with a simple change in 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.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com "Understanding Your Organization as a System" and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected]  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.