You always hope that when fads present themselves that they live a short life and leave little carnage in their wake, but you can still see organizations that are ISO certified and displaying the banner proudly.  Yes, we are certified ISO company and we continue to have the best documented processes in our industry . . . that create concrete life preservers.

Often you see these companies be more expensive then their competitors and in this case it doesn’t mean a better product or service.  The hoards of people hired to document and audit add to costs.  These costs have to be accounted for somewhere.

Redesign of the work is in order, not documenting a poorly conceived system of processes.  Many point to the benefit of seeing their system and the interactions, but few identify that this design is actually flawed and full of waste and sub-optimization.  In service, only a redesign based on customer demand will help to provision a good outcome.

Workers and managers in the work understanding organizational performance end-to-end from a customer perspective gives them knowledge.  Process improvement does not go far enough, it might give you a percentage or two if your lucky, or create more waste if you are unlucky.  The whole system design with mass-production and Tayloristic thinking is perpetuated and huge improvements are missed.

Real improvements don’t come from standardization and documentation in service.  They come redesigning our thinking about the design and management of work.

Join me for the International Deming Conference in New York City on March 21 – 22.

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