Every function sales, operations, software development, contact centers, etc., etc. have their own association.  They all promote certifications, training and much more to teach how to be better at their function.  So few, though, have a focus on the broader system and how each function interacts with each the others.

Most of the banter on Linked-In, Twitter talks about how to optimize their function and be profitable.  One might appreciate being updated for a skill he/she might have and learn more about happenings in these functions.  However, much of the conversation is really dysfunctional.

I don’t believe that  a contact center was intended to be a profit center or even something that should be outsourced.  This is especially true for information technology and human resources as they are supporting functions . . . and they need to be profit centers? 

A Fortune 500 technology company with a division that provides ATM services for banks including installation was charged extra for the phone lines by a centralized location (of the same company) that provisioned the phone lines.  In some cases, they were charged double for phone lines and the costs were passed to the customer. Pretty soon customers were complaining about why this companies phone line charges were so high.  The answer: the centralized function was paid a bonus based on what profit it could show and jacked up the price to the internal division.  This is an example of a supporting function gone wild with sub-optimizing results.

It is important to understand that the dysfunction is caused by these functional areas.  Almost all businesses are designed this way.  Each function competing with another for resources and rewards.  While all this is happening, the system falls apart.

Systems thinking is the glue that holds an organization together.  But it requires a change in the design and management of work.  The old design of  functional areas optimizing their own processes can not stand in a world that requires collaboration and cooperation.  Further, management must develop new roles in these redesigned systems.

The corresponding result is business improvement beyond just efficiency and effectiveness.  Culture improves as the customer becomes the focus of a system’s attention rather than each other.  Instead of in-fighting over a piece of the pie, employees work together to make the pie bigger . . . giving growth opportunities for all.

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

Make the new decade a profitable and rewarding one, start a new path here.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com “Understanding Your Organization as a System” and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about how to get started at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

Tripp Babbitt is a columist (Quality Digest and IQPC), speaker, and consultant to private and public service industry.