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Success With Lean Isn't Just About Tools and Training …

October 30th, 2012 1 comment

Lean toolsI talk to people everyday in all kinds of industries who, for their own reasons, have decided that they need to do Lean.   And, in most cases … it’s pretty easy to confirm that they REALLY do have legit business reasons for doing Lean.  So far, so good … we’re talking about solving real business problems …  I’m happy.

Now, let’s start talking about execution.  Oh no … Almost always, the conversation jumps to Lean tools and tools training.  And, you know what …. tools and tools training are not the most important considerations for achieving success with lean.   There … I’ve said it …

Now, before I get people thinking I’m completely nuts and sending me nasty emails, I’m not saying that Lean tools aren’t important. Tool knowledge is obviously necessary, but it is absolutely not sufficient.  Here’s my thinking.

First, what is success, or maybe better, what is not success?  Success IS NOT training 100 people across 5 operations in Lean. Success IS NOT about certifications. Success IS NOT completing X projects last quarter, all with slick final report outs.  If these or things like them are your measuring sticks for success …. well, you’re just being lazy and I can assure you that your relationship with Lean will end badly.

Download our Lean Primer kit an overview of project selection and definition ….


I’ll argue that success can only be defined by BUSINESS RESULTS, results that can be objectively measured and verified. Am I improving service to the customer in a meaningful way? Am I reducing risk (compliance, regulatory, liability, etc) in some meaningful way?  Am I pulling cost out and improving margins? Am I making better use of finite resources? Am I doing a better job of retaining existing revenue streams? Am I doing a better job generating new top-line growth? etc, etc.

Squishy, feel-good measurements (# people trained, # projects executed, etc) really just equate to an academic exercise and, let me tell you,  I don’t talk to a lot of business leaders that are interested in academic exercises these days.  It’s all about results … show me the money …

So, without further adieu, here’s a 3-step formula for Lean success:  Identify your target, then take aim, then fire.   I know … I know … not exactly a sophisticated or earth-shattering pronouncement, but sometimes taking things that have been made unnecessarily complicated and putting them in overly simple terms helps …

Identifying targets is about aligning the lean effort with the REAL NEEDS OF THE BUSINESS. No squeaky wheel projects! Do things that matter.  Aiming is about defining and scoping projects so that they are well-defined and manageable. We don’t want boil the ocean things that have no chance of getting done and we don’t want death by a thousand cuts through the dreaded scope creep.  We want high-value projects that have a clearly defined scope and objective.   Then … and only then … we fire by attacking our good projects with good training and Lean project execution.

I know it’s simplistic and really just common sense, but all to often the identify and aim components are put on the back burner in favor of fire events like tools training and kaizen events.  Why?  Well, because identify and aim are just plain hard sometimes and it’s awfully easy to just train people and do stuff.

But, realistically, what’s likely to happen if the identify and aim components are ignored? You’ll get a lot of people trained and a lot of meaningless, squeaky wheel projects being worked on that really don’t make any measurable impact to the business. Training for the sake of training and projects for the sake of projects …. a recipe for a Lean train wreck you want to avoid.  But I maintain that if the 3 steps I laid out happen well, then success in terms of meaningful business results is always within reach, and meaningful business results is the right definition of success for Lean.

Thoughts?  I’d like to hear from you …..

Design Thinking and Operational Excellence Problem Solving

October 29th, 2012 Comments off

Design Thinking and Operational ExcellenceThere is a lot being written about Design or Design Thinking.  So where does it fit within Operational Excellence.  Where does design fit into problem solving?

Well at its foundation, design is a form of problem solving.  The first step is to identify a gap.  The designer then produces a problem statement usually in the form of why the user of the product or service has a gap which includes what is actually expected.  Alternatives are then defined, explored and evaluated.  After a solution is selected, a plan to produce the produce or perform the service is determined.  After the item is produced or the service performed, the user’s previous gap is checked to see if it has been closed or not.  Note at this point the similarities to the Shewhart Cycle (P-D-C-A).    Design, like P-D-C-A, is an iterative problem solving methodology.

One of the differences of design though is that it is encouraged to jump between the stages as frequently as is seen fit.  If you were to once again use the Shewhart Cycle as an example, design would happily tolerate P-D-C-D-C-A-D-C-A as an example.  There are several messages in this jumping in and out of the various stages.  There isn’t an assumption and maybe not even an effort to find the optimal solution.  Quick improvements may be acceptable versus finding the optimal solutions.  There is no doubt there is a tendency to act.  What does this focus of improvements with each design v. finding the ultimate solution mirror?  Don’t Kaizen events have similar characteristics?

 

Download lean, six sigma, BPM, VOC content

 

Design is, in fact, a problem solving methodology.  However, there is a lot of problem solving that isn’t design.  Improving an existing system isn’t normally considered design.  Nor is tuning an existing system.  Yet both are problem solving events.  And “just do it” activity is certainly not design.   The term design is normally reserved for new products and services, solving chronic problems where stakeholder interests are at odds or even choosing and optimizing among a series of alternatives to replace an existing process (think about selecting a new AP package among a group of vendors).

So Design Thinking and OpEx problem solving aren’t two different lines of thinking.  Design is a subset of problem solving with practices very similar to past problem solving methods such as the Shewhart Cycle or Kaizen events.  If you’d like to discuss any of this, please feel free to reach out to me.

What is Lean, Really? Taking a Step Back …

October 25th, 2012 1 comment

What is Lean? How’s it different from Six Sigma?  Which one should I use?  How do I get started?   I get questions like this all the time.  To process aficionados… well, these questions just seem trivial.  Come on … How can anyone not know that?

Not so fast.  To a business person under real pressure to solve a real business problem … one who doesn’t have time to wade through the vast swamp of information and opinions out there … these are completely relevant questions.  And save the theoretical, academic stuff … just cut to the real-world chase … no time for a lecture … can it help me nor not?

What is Lean?

I know there are a lot of more complete definitions, but I like simple and straight forward so I boil it down to a relentless focus on the identification and elimination of waste.  But, let’s expand a little more:

  • Lean is about doing more with less
  • Lean is based on the premise that anywhere work is being done, waste is being generated … and should be minimized or removed
  • It should be team based process understanding business processes in a way that identifies and eliminates waste to increase efficiency and effectiveness.
  • It can be used at any level of the organization and applied to any process or work area

What Lean Isn’t …

At least the way we approach it here, it’s not a long, complicated process based on sophisticated data analysis, where projects take months and months to deliver results.  Now, to be clear, there are certainly projects/problems that need tools like Six Sigma to do this kind of analysis, but Lean approaches a different kind of problem (flow, throughput, cycle time, etc) in a simpler way, and, done well,  typically focuses on incremental improvements instead of big bang breakthroughs.  And, Lean is for everyone, from the lowest level operator to high level executives.  You don’t need a PhD to get stuff done.

How do I get started?

In my opinion, Lean should not be rolled out as a big, top-heavy initiative.  Lean can be effectively deployed in a grass roots, pay-as-you-go model that requires minimal up-front investment, and still delivers quick ROI.  See this post where I laid out such a pay-as-you-go approach.

How can Lean help me?

  • Faster. Removing waste, complexity, and bottlenecks improves process flow and assures that things can be done faster, and be more predictable
  • Cheaper. If there are fewer unnecessary steps, less complexity, and things get done faster because of better overall flow,  then fewer resources need be consumed
  • Better. Complexity = more opportunities for defects = reduced service quality. Reduce  complexity, and quality improvements often are a natural by-product

Difference between Lean and Six Sigma?

Difference Between Lean and Six Sigma

There you have it.  Simplistic, I know, but I hope this helps to answer some of the fundamental questions.  Contact me if you want to discuss in more detail.

The Face of Operational Excellence – 2020 and Beyond …

October 23rd, 2012 Comments off

Recently I wrote about the history of Operational Excellence.  Now let’s turn around and talk about its future.  Where are we going?  What will it look like in the year 2020 and beyond?

First, as I noted in my last article, there are certain elements, such as the construction of the original control charts, which have been the same for nearly one hundred years.   The foundations of Operational Excellence, expanded upon by Deming and refined by today’s companies to consistently drive productivity gains and market share growth, are timeless.  We will continue to express goals in the form of scorecards.  Enterprise level value streams will continue to exist as they are simply the expression of an organization’s value creation process.  And improvement methodologies with roots dating back to the 1920’s will continue to be applied to performance gaps identified by customers and stakeholders.

So what will be new?  First, the evolution of many of the deployment philosophies will race ahead. As the pace of change in business accelerates, so too will the pace of change in change models.  We have written extensively about Alignment, Pull Don’t Push, Go Broad Before Deep and Pay As You Go.  These philosophies yield a very different deployment model than what evolved from the late ‘80’s to about midway through our first decade of the new century.  We deconstructed a very heavy change model we helped to create.  And we think it will go further as a modular and quick iterative workstyle will race ahead. To allow it to happen, we will “chunk” problem solving methodologies to how they are used and develop new ways of making them faster and lighter.

Download lean, six sigma, BPM, VOC content

Another force that will accelerate the application of Operational Excellence activities will be technology as enterprise software collects hordes of data, business process management software uses that data for alignment, dashboard reporting of aligned metrics is constructed to lower level processes where projects can be scoped and everyone has mobile access to the reporting and to rich media libraries of improvement methodologies in consumable “chunks” addressing specific performance gaps.  Everything we do over extensive periods of time, will be real time.

Operational Excellence has become a fundamental aspect of every company’s management systems.  But it diminishes its usefulness by being slow and cumbersome.  What everyone has come to call the “New Normal” doesn’t have the patience for that sort of speed, or lack thereof.  It will come because many, many good professionals will work at pushing it forward bit by bit, just as it happened in the past.  And, like so many other professions and businesses, it will happen on the back of technology.

If you’d like to discuss, feel free to contact me at jlopezona@ssqi.com.

Warehouses and Distribution Centers: The Supply Chain’s New Efficiency Experts?

October 18th, 2012 Comments off

I’ve had a number of conversations this week with leaders focusing on improvements in supply chain management, specifically in a warehousing operation.  This reminded me of a supplychainbrain.com article from some time back that featured one our our long-running customers and made the argument that companies should think about their warehouse/distribution center floor for some low hanging fruit performance improvements.   Warehouses and distribution centers are mission critical components of the overall supply chain, but seem to get very little attention when it comes to process improvement.  This is a mistake as a careful analysis would likely show things like:

  • High or unpredictable cost of operations
  • Poor use of space
  • High cost of stock levels
  • High resource levels needed to sustain customer order shipments, or, worse, a complete inability to consistently meet customer expectations

Download 3PL brief

this short Executive Brief that discusses the importance of CI for companies whose business success is a clear function of effective and efficient warehouse and distribution operations – namely 3PLs.  Relevant reading even if you’re not a 3PL, but have warehousing and distribution operations

Now, what can you do about it.  A focused effort to analyze the underlying processes, not the activities, of the warehousing operation may provide a cost-effective answer.  Structured process improvement approaches, when applied correctly, can make a dramatic positive impact to these operations. At a high level, the goal is to understand the core processes, identify to the highest value performance gaps, and then design and implement right-fit improvements. Where might focus be directed?

  • Poor warehouse layout & design?
  • Warehouse process flows are not well defined and therefore the warehouse is cluttered and disorganized, possibly dangerous?
  • High cost due to excess Inventories?
  • Lack of basic WMS functionality?
  • Poor stock and location controls -Can’t find stock for customer orders?
  • Picking productivity poor which is driving additional labour costs?
  • Overtime requirements just be meet basic SLA terms?
  • Stock loss is an everyday occurrence ?
  • Poor people productivity?
  • No visible floor controls for Input and output product flows?

In the article Charlie Jacobs discussed how APL Logistics (a long time Qualtec client) rolled out a simple but effective lean based continuous improvement  program that made improvements in several of these areas, saving one customer over $1M. That alone should raise some eyebrows!

Lean, Six Sigma and Formal Process Improvement … Yesterday and Today

October 16th, 2012 3 comments

History of Process ImprovementA confession – I’m a history geek.  I read history books, watch the history channel and am fascinated by arcane entries on Wikipedia.  History provides understanding.  If you ever wonder why something is like it is, find its origins.  Sometimes, what is commonly accepted clearly no longer merits application.  And likewise, the confusing which is about to be discarded suddenly makes so much common sense that it is retained.  And so I think it is worthy to pause and look back on our profession and examine our origins.

Without going back to the Stone Age, I’ll start the discussion by citing Carl Frederick Gauss (1777 – 1855) who introduced the concept of the normal curve.  Aha….if you look hard enough, you realize you don’t always get the same outcome from an action.  And in fact, there are patterns to the distribution.  It was only a matter of time before someone asked “Why?”

Fast forward to the Roaring 1920’s, a decade marked by urbanization and strong industrial growth in the United States.  Phones were offered in every home and cables had to be laid underground in growing cities.  Western Electric, an engine of innovation not unlike today’s Silicon Valley based technology companies, wrestled with the Young Ma Bell’s reliability.  And Walter Shewhart measured performance using the concepts of distribution of results like with a normal curve.  Shewhart postulated that three sigma from the mean was where a process required correction and demonstrated that “tampering” with a process in reaction to non-conformance actually increased variation thus degrading quality.  Gauss’ normal curve is tipped on its side and an SPC control chart is born.

Download Six Sigma History

a short Powerpoint overview of the History of Six Sigma …

It is during World War Two and Post-War Japan’s reconstruction that we see today’s modern thoughts about quality management, later to be framed more broadly as Operational Excellence, take shape.  America’s still primarily agrarian economy is reshaped to supply the war in a very centralized fashion allowing for broad distribution of best practices. Then the ideas are transported to an ailing Japan in what becomes a huge laboratory for their application.

Deming rises to the top of the mountain in this period as he combines Shewhart’s Statistical Process Control with ideas about Transformational Change formed as he saw two economies repositioned.  He forms his System of Profound Knowledge asserting that managers must have (i) an appreciation of a system, (ii) an understanding of variation, (iii) the theory of knowledge and (iv) knowledge of psychology or human nature.  He has linked the numbers with the individuals and the organization and it is all sewn together in his book “Out of Crisis” which could serve as any OpEx leader’s handbook.

It is in the ‘70’s that Motorola, a company at the very leading edge of a seemingly invincible industrial America, recognizes it has a quality problem and begins its search for improvement adopting Deming’s postulate that a focus on quality decreases cost while increasing customer satisfaction while a focus on cost leads to decreased quality and eventually increased costs and decreased customer satisfaction.

As Galvin focuses Motorola, Bill Smith comes forward with his Latent Defect Theory connecting variation to defects and waste.  Eliminate the variation and you’ll increase quality, decrease costs and increase customer satisfaction.  It is at Motorola that the problem solving methodology of M-A-I-C  (later expanded to DMAIC) is assembled to address variation. Six Sigma, or zero defects, becomes the mantra.  When Motorola is bestowed with the Baldridge Award, corporate America takes note and seeks to replicate the success.

It is from the late ‘80’s through the mid-‘90’s that elements of a deployment strategy for Six Sigma form.  At Unisys, the term Black Belt is coined denoting an expert specialist in Six Sigma. At Motorola’s Six Sigma Institute, a part of Motorola’s trend setting corporate university, a knowledge transfer system is developed to broadly disseminate the practice.  At ABB, the terms Champions and Green Belt are added to denote the different levels of knowledge required for different roles and populations.  And at Allied Signal, the efforts pivot to improving processes with specific business goals in mind giving rise to criteria for project selection. The capstone is added at GE when Welch drives the program to new heights demonstrating what a Top Down approach can produce.  And he adds the kicker of immense publicity.

Much has happened since the mid-‘90’s.  Lean has been incorporated to create LSS.  The ideas have spread from manufacturing to services (although one could argue services were always part of Deming’s work as well).  Application has gone around the world.  And the term Operational Excellence has taken shape to emphasize the business goal versus simply the project or process goal.

But wherever we are today, the elements established by Gauss, Shewhart and Deming, brought together by Motorola and popularized by modern companies lead by GE are still the same.   Reading Deming today is as pertinent as fifty years ago.  Putting together the numbers, individuals and the organization to improve processes, products and services to lower costs and improve customer satisfaction remain appropriate goals and the elements that developed to do so remain relevant.

Whatever criticism exists, this history should demonstrate how well founded each of the contributions were at their time and how the conditions that gave rise to them still exist today so as to validate their continued application.  If we understand from where they came, we will do a better job of properly applying them today.    If you would like to discuss any of this, please feel free to contact me.

Design Thinking in Operational Excellence

October 11th, 2012 2 comments

Design Thinking - Left Brain, Right BrainRecently, I have been very interested in design.  The interest has been born of the need to help customers grow.  It started a few years ago when working on Service Design issues with a client.  The interest eventually took me to Stanford’s d.school of design where I had a chance to examine some case studies.  Naturally, I sought to apply the lessons to my own work. So I began to think of how the ultimate left brain world of Operational Excellence would mesh with the right brain world of design.

A key point I took away from Design Thinking was the suggestion to solve problems by fast iterative prototyping irrespective of whether you felt you’d  found the true root cause of a problem.   How could the idea of prototyping be applied to Operational Excellence where we teach to gather data and analyze with the intent of finding root cause before designing a solution in the form of an improvement?  How could these two seemingly contradictory philosophies be reconciled?

What I concluded was that if we know the process and have the data, we can find root cause. But that in most cases, especially in service businesses, we don’t have that sort of data.  In those cases, prototyping can be a highly effective way to improve or design.  Some might consider this little more than another name for simulation.  But it’s not because when prototyping, you must find a way to launch and go live with the prototype which creates new customer feedback and that is not available in a simulation.

Download Service Blueprinting an overview of Service Blueprinting …

Now some might say that launching prototypes is akin to letting customers find your mistakes and will damage your relationship or brand.  Certainly, there are those cases.  There are products and markets in which launching prototypes is really not possible.  But in many cases, a co-creation process is not only possible but is preferable.  Certainly, when working with a customer where information and actions flow back and forth in a joint value stream that is part of a supply chain, co-creation of prototypes may be the only effective way to find solutions.

I’m not here to tell you we should throw out existing problem solving methodologies.  I’m simply here to say that the right and left hand sides of our brains can work together to be more flexible in how we find solutions.  Design Thinking is very applicable to Operational Excellence and we are using it in many situations to help customers get to solutions faster.  If you’d like to discuss, you can reach me at jlopezona@ssqi.com.

To Lean or Six Sigma – That is the Question …

October 9th, 2012 7 comments

Lean or Six SigmaWe can’t decide whether to do Lean or Six Sigma …”.  I’m still surprised how many times I hear this, much in the same context of whether to get a Camaro or a Mustang.   There is still this misconception that Lean and Six Sigma are competing methodologies, and that you have to opt for one camp or the other based on some arbitrary preferences.

The CI consulting industry is partly responsible for this, no doubt.  Lean shops push Lean  — Six Sigma shops have all kinds of reasons why Six Sigma is the be-all end-all.   Then the waters were muddied further with the introduction of this thing called Lean Six Sigma, which weaves the lean tools through DMAIC methodology.

So, if you’re a business leader with real problems and real opportunities, how do you make a smart decision, one that has a good chance to deliver a solid ROI and bottom line results?

The simple answer is Let your business tell you what makes sense.   We did a  post that touched on the concept of letting the business pull your CI approach vs. pushing a one size fits all approach, a good example of Lean thinking itself.  We have a very structured assessment model we use when we help our customers design CI programs, but the waters can start to clear with some simple questions …

  1. What kinds of business problems do I need to solve?  Do I have clear quality and defect issues that are hurting the business?  Are they complicated problems, where you really don’t know what’s happening?    Or, am I really trying to increase efficiency, make things run faster, and at a lower cost?   Quality and defect issues may tilt the scales toward Six Sigma.  Efficiency, cycle time, flow almost always point to lean.
  2. When it comes to process maturity and availability of data, where is my organization, really?  Six Sigma is heavily dependent on measurement and analysis of detailed data to get to root cause. What happens if you really don’t have a lot of data, and have a lot of processes that are messy and unstable?  Projects that take a VERY long time to complete, if they ever complete, is a likely scenario.  In this case, then maybe you should look to lean to clean up and stabilize processes, establish some measurement systems, and get some quick results before moving into Six Sigma.
  3. Am I under major budget and time constraints?  Six Sigma can yield some incredible breakthrough results when done correctly, but it takes some upfront investment, in money, resources, and time.   Lean is typically simpler, projects tend to be more incremental, upfront costs are less, and results (albeit in smaller bites) come quicker.
  4. Do I have leadership buyin and active participation?  Getting Six Sigma off the ground really requires some support and infrastructure.  If you have that buyin, there are typically some major gains to be had.   If you don’t, and need to do things more from a grass roots perspective, then lean might be a better answer.
  5. Am I under pressure to show real operational improvements, NOW?  If so, then I’d take a hard look at lean as a starting point.

Download our Lean Quickstart Presentation

our Lean Quickstart .ppt.  There is a short section that provides a high level overview of the differences between Lean and Six Sigma.

Now, before all you purists get mad at me, I know this is overly simplistic.  Did you see all the “may” and “maybes”?   But, you have to admit it is very practical and does provide some realistic guidance, a starting point at least.

Of course, no single one of these questions should be looked at in a vacuum, but I think if you look at all of them in total, you can get some clarity on what might be the best place to start, whether it be Lean, Six Sigma, or a blended Lean Six Sigma approach.  And, remember, different organizations within the company will likely be in different places.  That’s OK.   Remember, be flexible, and let the business pull the CI approach/tools that make sense. Good results will follow ….

As always, I welcome your feedback and thoughts.   Email me if you’d like to discuss in more detail.

BPM and Lean – For Many Service Oriented Organizations, Enough to Get Big Improvement Results

October 4th, 2012 1 comment

Might Continuous improvement (CI) be making a comeback after a several years of being severely cut back or outright eliminated?  I think they just might be, and I see it most in service delivery organizations. But, they’re doing it for different reasons and they’re doing it in a different way.  Simple and light-weight trumps top-heavy and complex.  Near-term wins reign supreme over long-term initiatives.

Why the re-emerging interest? Well, the simple answer is that things are just different than they were, even just a few years ago.  I talk to business leaders every day, and I don’t hear “we want to start a program to instill a culture of quality and continuous improvement in the company”.    No, what I hear about are specific business problems, and immense pressure to immediately and inexpensively fix the problems.   Feel good corporate initiatives are out ….  in the trenches get it done  thinking and actions are in.

Problems in service organizations seem to cluster around being able to deliver an increasing service level while maintaining or growing margins, WITHOUT adding headcount.   It’s do more with less (or at least with what we have).  This insight doesn’t bode well for the near-term employment outlook, but it’s what I see nonetheless.

BPM and Lean for Services OrganizationsAnd, it’s not just the reasons for doing CI that are different. The way business leaders want to do CI is also different.  There is almost no appetite for big dollar, infrastructure-heavy corporate initiatives. The focus is almost entirely on quick wins … show me the money.   Now, I know there are some practitioners out there might say that a focus on near term results is just a recipe for disaster, but I just don’t think so.  We have to live in the real world, and this world requires a shift in perspective.

So, my argument …. For many service organizations, fundamental Business Process Management (BPM) and Lean combined with some light-weight infrastructure components can make for an incredibly cost-effective way to make near-immediate, high impact improvements and set the stage for long-term sustainable results.  A true win-win.

In a services environment, simple BPM and Lean allows you to consistently execute well-defined, low risk, and high impact projects  that are clearly aligned with the real goals of the business …. for many, a better path  to  Continuous Improvement

BPM crystallizes value streams (processes) and establishes measurement systems that clearly identify the highest value gaps in performance, from both customer and business perspectives. These gaps represent business cases, and ultimately, projects.  Define a good prioritization approach, and you have a project pipeline.

Download BPM

a BPM Overview presentation

Lean is an inexpensive and highly effective way, then, to execute those projects and close those performance gaps.  Now, there is not doubt that not all projects identified will be lean projects.  You will for sure find capital projects, six sigma projects, and even some process redesign projects.  BUT, my experience is that a significant number of the highest value projects in service and service delivery organizations are indeed Lean projects. They focus on doing more with less, reducing cycle time, or reducing cost.  That’s lean.

Download Lean Services

 this short .ppt overview of Lean for Service Operations

BPM and Lean.  Done well, you can get near-term results AND set the stage for long-term sustainable results.  And, the beauty of it is that it can be very lightweight and cost-effective.  Contact me if you want to discuss how this lightweight approach to CI might work for your organization.

Service Design and Innovation – Are You Armed with the Right Tools?

October 2nd, 2012 1 comment

I recently worked with a client that had a not uncommon, but likewise complex, organizational structure –  the matrixed organization.  This is often the chosen structure in B2B service businesses that seek to recognize the different contributions and responsibilities of customer facing business development folks, service design groups and service delivery personnel with project management skills. This is especially the case in businesses that deliver large, discreet and technical projects.
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These organizations wish to be sensitive to customer needs and innovative with new services but are often burdened by complex human systems and competing points of view.  One way to address the disarray or sub-optimization is to establish a base set of skills for all the various groups and then pockets of knowledge that serve the needs and demands of the different groups, allow migration between groups and provide a ladder to the top of the pyramid.

For our client, we developed such a roadmap of skills.  The first level was that everyone has to know how to map customer and company processes and how they interface.  Examples of such work was to develop joint value streams or, even more valuable, a service blueprint.  In addition, the first level includes VOC, identifying waste, and economic value analysis from both the customer and enterprise viewpoints.  As previously stated, all the personnel involved had to master this knowledge.

Download Service Blueprintingthis overview of Service Blueprinting …

The second level had everyone in a service design role learning to interpret VOC, convert it to CTQ, plan for the future and price value.  Modules included Enterprise Value Stream Mapping (EVSM), Service Blueprinting, Advanced Process Analysis and the initial tables of the House of Quality.

Finally, the last level was constructed for personnel with broader account and/or service responsibilities. At this level we introduced long term planning and complex service design knowledge and skills.  Concepts included economic value analysis, multi-generational planning and TRIZ.

For those familiar with Six Sigma Black Belt type curriculums, we constructed a laddered set of tools and concepts along with design roadmaps similar to DMAIC as a body of knowledge for Service Design and Innovation professionals. Service Design and Innovation are learned processes and skills which can be assembled into a career path of knowledge.  If you’d like to discuss this further, please contact me at jlopezona@ssqi.com.