Cracking Your Service System’s Code

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All systems are different.  Like snowflakes, which I have seen a lot of lately, no two are the same.  They are different by structure, thinking, work design, measures, customer demands, and much more.  The cracking of your system’s code requires study.

The act of understanding performance will lead you to your own unique conclusions on what is best for your system.  Copying other systems for best practices leaves service organizations under-performing.  Too many improvement efforts are lost by trying to avoid “reinventing the wheel” when the wheel never fit the purpose in the first place.

Management has a head full of ideas that they believe will improve their system.  But not until they challenge and discern the current list of assumptions and the real result of current thinking can they move on.  The question of current  performance should be  . . . “do my current list of assumptions and theories about the design and management of work provide me knowledge in the form of evidence that it is or isn’t working?”

An inability to ponder how knowledge is gained is just shooting in the dark when new assumptions and theories are added.  As Dr. Deming would say off to the Milky Way we go!  It becomes a crap shot.

Too few service organizations have the correct measures to judge their performance.  They focus on financial metrics or functional metrics that drive both waste and sub-optimization.  But don’t begin with measures.

Measures need to be derived from purpose and without establishing the purpose of your system any direction you go will lead you nowhere.  Service systems need to understand why they exist . . . and the reason is related to customer demands.  Studying customer demands will allow you to define and refine the purpose of your system.

The relationship between all elements of your system and performance is inextricable.  What you will discover if you are honest with yourself is that the thinking that has driven your current performance needs an overhaul and to test new ideas related to customer measures and purpose.

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.  Read his articles at Quality Digest and his column for  Download free from “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 LinkedIn at

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