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Posts Tagged ‘service innovation’

Waterfall Design (QFD): Looks Good but Watch Your Step

February 24th, 2013 4 comments

Pretty but Watch Your Step

Waterfall design looks so good on paper.  You start by defining customer requirements and then each step naturally leads to the next until the service is offered, product produced or new process is launched.  A QFD is a waterfall design process and it expresses this natural progression as linked matrices.  Anyone who has ever seen a presentation for QFD sees and accepts the logic of the waterfall concept.  Why then is it that what seems like a smooth running machine usually ends up a painful and burdensome process?

The problem is that elements of a product or service are usually put through in phases to keep the whole work flow running.  If that weren’t done, the Company would have the vast majority of the people in the process idle having either finished, or still waiting for their turn, to contribute to the final work.  Such massive underutilization is no way to run a company.  So we avoid the poor utilization by breaking things down into pieces and sending them through the process in components.  The pressure to maintain utilization and the resulting flow of components creates a tremendous problem in waterfall design processes.

The problem is the series of rework loops caused by gaining buy-in and responding to feedback from internal customers. As each segment flows through the maze of work, each functional area has valuable feedback and expects to be heard.    Once again, using the QFD process as an example, as the output of each matrix becomes an input to the next matrix, the new parties have comments.  And as such, the input to a particular matrix gets kicked back along with the new functional area’s thoughts and comments. The water is now flowing up the waterfall!

Now the problem starts to compound when you have more than two matrices in the process.  When its just two, the rework and new work cross and loop until their joint work product meets exit criteria.  They are just handing off to each other like two people having a catch with two balls.  Every now and then one player may have both hands full but the waste of his compatriots empty hands is short lived.

Download WP “Design Basics – QFD Overview”

But once past two players, problems arise quickly.  As a simple example, let’s imagine three matrices starting with product definition.  Product definition provides input to design which, in turn, provides input to Service Operation or Manufacturing, as the case may be.   Now imagine, just like when there were two matrices, that the output of the first matrix (i.e. product or service requirements) goes to a design team which provides feedback.  They remain in equilibrium until the design team’s output goes to a production or delivery team which has its input.  As Player 2 passes reworked Cycle 1 to Player 3, they are also receiving reworked Cycle 2 from Player 1.  It isn’t long before a ball hits the ground.

Irrespective of how fast everyone can be, if you add enough matrices or steps, the process breaks down.    What usually happens is that Player 1 ends up with a stack of balls on the ground around him.  The system was designed for one set of requirements to flow smoothly.  When multiple rework loops occur, the perfectly designed machine collapses under its own weight.

There is no easy and universal problem for this breakdown.  Some possible solutions are for fully integrated teams representing all functional areas to work on components together through all phases.  A design “cell” if you will.  Another solution might be to design from the back to the front.  And yet another might be to simply accept underutilization as a cost.  But whatever the case, you should be aware and step outside the box before you drown in the waterfall.  If you have comments, please contact me.

Productivity – The Coming Golden Age of Continuous Improvement

February 10th, 2013 Comments off

A Drive for Productivity

Last week I wrote a post entitled Value Creation for Private Investors that went largely ignored as it was one of my lowest viewed posts of the new year for a Monday when most of you tune in.  The idea about which I wrote was a revelation to me but it was still nascent at the time and thus very undeveloped and weakly presented. But it gnawed at me and so it kept turning in my head.  And now it pops out again this week hopefully a bit more developed.  The idea is the transition we are making from creating the illusion of wealth with financial engineering to needing to truly drive wealth with productivity gains which will make for a golden age in Operations and Operational Excellence.

As a nation, we will flourish based upon our ability to drive productivity.  You see wealth, as measured by GDP, during the majority of our lifetimes has been driven by population growth.  But as our population growth slows, wealth will only be created by increased productivity.  This transition has been hidden from us for some time by the illusion of wealth creation brought about by high capital liquidity and inappropriately priced risk which eventually lead to the bursting of a financial bubble.  But with risk being more appropriately priced, the illusion is gone and we are now faced with long term slow growth and the only way to stoke it is with increased productivity.

To drive the growth in productivity, I wish to cite a recent blog post by GE’s Jeffrey Immelt a portion of which read as follows;

There are four new drivers of productivity, and success in each depends on the technology and talent we develop. The first is how the sheer volume and increased access to shale gas in regions around the globe is changing the energy debate and the balance of energy power. It would require real infrastructure and pipeline integration between Canada, Mexico and the U.S., but North America could achieve energy independence within 10 years. The second driver for dramatically increased productivity is applying the lessons of social media to the industrial world and building what we call the Industrial Internet. By owning and connecting the analytical layers around industrial products – and using real time data to extract real timeknowledge – we can improve asset performance and drive efficiency. The third driver is speed and simplification because the only way to serve our customers better and compete in a complex world is by working faster and smarter. The last productivity driver, and related to the other three, is the evolution of advanced manufacturing. Manufacturing excellence, forgotten for too long, is once again a competitive advantage.

Drive Value with OpEx

Now when you look at this argument about from where we will get the productivity growth, a problem jumps out.  Namely, we have to generate non-population related productivity gains with a population that isn’t geared to Immelt’s productivity drivers.  Our younger citizens certainly are better aligned and skilled but as population growth slows, they will be the minority.

So guess what — the knowledge of how to improve services, products and processes is really valuable.  Now I’m not talking about how to write a project charter or write up a SIPOC.  I’m talking about revolutionizing energy with process innovation in the extraction of natural gas, the development of the cloud so we can jettison underutilized servers from expensive IT budgets and citizen publishing of information so knowledge flows freely and into every nook and cranny of the population instantaneously.  Imagine – those have all happened in the last five years.  Those are the types of improvements that transform an economy.  But there is plenty of room between a project to save an AP process two days and reinventing the extraction of fossil fuels.  And every time a new industry is targeted, all the operating processes below the top level change will also be looking to improve.

Can you imagine where these big seismic changes will happen next?  How about redesigning education so everyone has access to knowledge inexpensively?  Or health care where we can all see an insanely low level of simple IT tools that if applied would eliminate gobs of waste.  Or all levels of government where we have constantly rising costs with little measureable gains in services.  These trends will continue.  They must continue or we, as a nation, will slowly lose our global relative wealth.  And I just don’t think Americans are ready for that.  But the changes will be disruptive.

In the race to drive wealth through productivity gains, we will see the greatest impact in processes and services simply because they are the largest percentages of the economy.  I’ve already named drilling services, the cloud, newspapers & magazine publishing, health care and education as service companies which either have gone through or are poised to go through significant redesign. What of the process side?

Systematically Driving Value with OpEx

Well I think we are going to see work get reinvented.  My former colleague at Qualtec, Mitch Lawrie, is working on software to focus management on results versus activities and my recent blog on the subject drew significant attention from many of you.  We have worked with several clients in financial services, telecom and transportation which are redesigning long accepted processes to drive greater than 50% reductions in key process cycle times by making them leaner, reducing complexity and capturing information better as well as analyzing it for knowledge.

To return to my original post, my “aha” moment was that I was at a private equity conference where investors of all sizes where lamenting they could no longer make easy money.  That easy money was driven by a combination of capital liquidity, high tolerance for risk and poor quantification of that risk.  It was a recipe for a bubble.  If you bought an asset, held it and sold it before the bubble burst, you made money.  If it was levered, you made a lot of it. The funny thing is that private corporate investors weren’t the only players at the casino. We were all there with real estate and stock portfolios.

But that is gone now.  And as we look into a new environment, we realize we are facing the longer term challenge of slowing population growth and an aging population that isn’t skilled at what is needed to drive the sort of productivity gains needed to maintain historic wealth creation.  To create wealth as a country, we now have to earn it the hard way.  And since there are only so many hours available in the work force, it means we have to work smarter.

And a clearer definition of that “aha” moment brings me to the message in this post.  We figure out ways to work smarter – whether it is a fifth level sub-process or an entire industry.  The result is that we are entering a golden age for people focused and skilled at how to work smarter.   We have the opportunity to make great contributions to our economy.  I urge you all to THINK BIG.  If you’d like to discuss, feel free to contact me.

Michelangelo’s Principles of Design Thinking

January 27th, 2013 Comments off

Perfect Design?

Some time ago, I read an article about great art and artists.  The author recited a lengthy list of what constitutes great art.  As I read it, I thought about how his arguments applied to industrial design as easily as they did to the Renaissance.  Recently, I’ve been engaged on service design problems and I decided to write down as much as I could remember from the article as principles by which to work on these engagements.  Here are the principles I documented:

1. Simplicity of Design is Clarity of Purpose.  So often, I look at a product or service packed with functions or features and walk away without bothering to learn to use it.   You would think the default would be the simple version but when people try to get creative, they somehow feel packing more into an essay, a painting or a product makes it better.  It doesn’t   Often, it simply masks the work has no real purpose.

2. The Best Designs Can’t Be Improved Upon. Imagine a math proof with either a mistake or that is overly complex.  In time, it will be improved upon and erased from the text books.  Imagine doing something so well that you leave no room for improvement. Similarly, imagine designing a house or piece of equipment that is as comfortable or useful today as it was five hundred years ago.  Won’t it be as comfortable five hundred years from now?

3. Design Starts with Defining the Right Problem. Developing the right solution for the right problem are two design problems in one.  You are better off making sure you’ve properly defined the problem before working on a solution.  Imagine if Columbus had designed a ship capable of dealing with the end of the earth?  Obviously, Columbus redefined his problem.

4. Getting Design Right is Hard Even Though It Looks Easy.  This one is really important…especially when you juxtapose it with #1 above.  Sometimes you look at a product or service that has been elegantly designed and think – so simple, I could have done that.  Well, you probably couldn’t because it was really hard.  Imagine the simplicity of the light-bulb  yet it took Bell 1,000 attempts which he called “steps”.  Each failure is a step forward.  But there are many failures before there is success.  It is hard even if the final product is such a perfect answer that it appears to have been obvious.

5. Nature reflects the Greatest Designs.  Look around at nature.  It is especially well designed.  A trout is perfectly designed to thrive in a cold mountain stream feeding on a bustling colony of insects which in turn are perfectly designed to live between the rocks of the same stream.  Good designers copy nature.  And their work product is often described as “natural”.  One of nature’s more relaxing elements is symmetry and repetition.  Gardens are more peaceful when you don’t have one of everything but repeat patterns of colors and plants.  Isn’t there an amazing elegance to a DNA strand?

6. Treat All Your Designs as If They Were a Mistake…And You Knew It Would Be.  In other words, do it over because you’ll do it better.  In doing so, you’ll look for your mistakes and try to correct them.  That is the hard work part of it.  And since no one sees every iteration of your design, they think it was easy.  I think recognizing you can always do better is what is particularly scary about being a parent – there really isn’t a second chance.  And since you know you’ll make mistakes, you just hope your children will one day forgive you.

 

Download PPT on Design Basics

 

7. A Great Design Can Be Really Scary.  More than likely, a great design so redefined the problem that the new solution won’t look anything like what current solutions look like today.  We can see today’s post-secondary education model is broken.  What will it look like in 20 years?  Would anyone in the ‘60’s have believed you if you told them that to get their news and information, they’d be reading digital content written by ordinary citizens in place of listening to Walter Cronkite?

8. To Design Well, Seek Collaboration…and Competition.  Something happens beyond ourselves when we are with each other.  It happens whether we are working together or competing.  Humans drive each other to excel.  That is why cities are so creatively vibrant. They explode with both collaboration and competition.  It is why you see two rivals push each other to excellence in sports…whether they are on the same or rival teams.  To design well, commune.

I hope my engagements yield great solutions for my clients.  I hope I help them see ways of satisfying their customers and stakeholders they’d never thought.  I hope these principles help me get them there.  Feel free to send me your’s.

VOC to Process Improvement to Innovation – The Round Trip

January 15th, 2013 Comments off

Roundtrip to Innovation

I’ve written dozens of articles about VOC, Process Improvement and Innovation on this blog.  Most have dealt with those subjects in isolation.  A few have related them to each other.   Really, I should have been discussing the entirety of the system more for the development of each is limited without the development of all.

This became apparent to me when I found a blog post where a portion of the post tied the three together so well I felt compelled to share it with you.  Specifically, it is written by Bradley (Woody) Bendle and it is posted on www.bx.businessweek.com.  The link to the specific post is as follows:

http://bx.businessweek.com/voice-of-the-customer/view?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.innovationexcellence.com%2Fblog%2F2012%2F09%2F17%2Fyour-consumers-are-valuable-not-fickle%2F

The blog post is entitled “Your Customers are Valuable – Not Fickle!” back in September 2012 and the portion that really hit me is shown below –

The great recession has profoundly changed the consumer, and it is highly unlikely that they will return to the behaviors and patterns of yesteryear. Many experts feel there is now a “new consumer normal” that is very different from what we had experienced in the past. In a recent Forbes.com article, Pam Goodfellow from BigInsight asserts that “the clear turning post for consumer behavior during the last decade came with the ‘Great Recession.’ Shoppers went from ‘spend now, worry later’ to an ‘abort spending, worry, worry, worry’ mindset.” The folks from the Future’s Company additionally provide their own perspective about this era of the new normal. “Consumers everywhere … are working from a new orientation about what they want and how they buy… [They] are now battle hardened, having found ways to survive and even thrive on the new opportunities a more competitive market has yielded.”

I think nearly all of us can relate to this “new normal” consumer mindset on some personal level. Who hasn’t had to make adjustments in their consumption over the past several years? If so many of us have had to make our own (sometimes pretty significant) adjustments, why aren’t we seeing more significant changes in how many existing businesses go to market?

There are a number of great books that provide valuable insightful about this phenomenon (e.g., Leading The Revolution by Gary Hamel, The Reinventors by Jason Jennings, Brand Relevance by David Aaker and Ten Rules for Strategic Innovators by Govindarajan and Trimble) to name a few that I highly recommend. And while these books address a range of topics with fabulous expertise, you can essentially boil their key underlying insights to the following two things.

1) Deeply understand you customer’s needs, and
2) Continually innovate.

We all need to face the fact that success is no longer guaranteed for those simply committed to “getting better” at what they know how to do. Twenty and thirty years ago, process improvement and cost containment could make one a titan within their industry. Those days are pretty much gone for good; much in the same way that today’s consumer will never be the same as yesterday’s consumer. 

A PowerPoint framework for a VOC maturity model

I just want to emphasize that VOC, Process Improvement and Innovation are intricately linked. They are not separate topics.  They aren’t implemented without thought to the other two.  You can’t get customers to give you their preferences and work with you on iterations of a product or service if they don’t see value in what you do for them.  You can’t have that sort of relationship if your processes aren’t delivering on your stated promises. And without the trust built by meeting those current promises, you can’t innovate new products and services as they will never be accepted.  VOC, Process Improvement and Innovation. They are the Trifecta.  Contact me if you wish to discuss this post.

Innovation – Beware the Voice of the Customer

January 1st, 2013 Comments off

Beware

Malcom Gladwell, in his #1 national bestseller “Blink” (2005), recounts fascinating results from Columbia University professors Sheena Iyengar and Raymond Fisman’s speed dating studies.  The professors ran speed dating nights across the street from Columbia University for university graduate students.  The events were like other speed dating events in which attendees would meet members of the opposite sex for a short set period of time (four to six minutes) and check a yes or no box on a form listing all their “dates” for the evening.  If both the man and woman checked each other’s names, they would given the information by which to meet each other and pursue a relationship.

But on a few occasions, in the interest of psychology and economics, Professor Iyengar and Fisman’s respective fields of study, attendees were asked to fill out a short questionnaire asking them to rate what they were looking for in a potential partner on a scale of 1 to 10 on six criteria that included attractiveness, shared interests, sense of humor, sincerity, intelligence and ambition.  They were asked to do so before the event, shortly after the event, a month later and then six months later.  In addition, at the end of each “date” during an event, they were asked to rate the person they’d just met on a scale of 1 – 10 and for the aforementioned attributes.

As you can tell, by the end of an event, attendees declared what they wanted, who they’ve chosen and how they rated who they’d chosen versus what they wanted.  So what happened?  Well, Mr. Gladwell reports that Professors Iyengar and Fisman found that the people to whom their subjects were actually attracted didn’t match the attributes to which they’d said they were attracted prior to the event.  But now it gets a little trickier.  If a subject said they wanted attractive, sincere mates but chose funny, intelligent ones, when asked after the event which attributes they preferred, they answered funny and intelligent. But when asked a month later, they could switch back to their initial preferences.

When the two professors were asked to interpret the results, the psychologist said she didn’t know what it meant while the economist said “the real me is the me revealed by my actions”.  Given the stated preferences changed and there is no report of the same candidates attending a second event so their actions could truly reveal the real them, I’m with the psychologist.

Download “Service Design & Innovation – Service Blueprinting”

What does this have to do with anything about which we write on this blog?  Well, I think the title says it all — “Beware the Voice of the Customer”.  If we don’t know what we want in a partner in whom we might vest our time and emotions, imagine the challenge to clearly and consistently state our preferences for a product or service over the time necessary for a company to recoup the investment to develop and launch?

So how do we successfully develop and launch new products and services if we can’t trust what customers tell us?  Well, we do have some tools and philosophies that more readily capture our fickle nature.  Namely observation linked with rapid prototyping.  Meet enough people and you don’t need a list of likes and dislikes.  The process of evolving preferences and product or service attributes meet.  If you wish to discuss VOC and or Design Thinking deployment models, feel free to contact me.

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.

When Leaders Overlook Process in Service Organizations …

March 16th, 2012 Comments off

Leadership…we want to be leaders and want leadership.  When you have a leadership role you personally grow and you can help the organizations in which you work and the individuals with whom you work.  When we are group members, leadership sets a vision and inspires us.  Leadership, like great architecture that conceives of a soaring skyline, can be magical.

Process…a series of operations which bring about a result.  It is a logical, nearly mechanical algorithm devoid of emotion.  You unemotionally define the inputs, suppliers, required actions and desired outcome in terms so you can measure.  You strive for stability so you can then improve capability as measured by customers.  Defining each brick and how they are assembled might not sound so inspirational, but you’re kidding yourself if you think it’s any less important.

Leaderships’ vision of that skyline and processes’ preoccupation with laying bricks can seem far apart and disconnected.   Yet when leadership looks past process, the results are eviscerating to any vision and corrosive to the leaders themselves.

In service organizations, processes are always driven by people, and managing the people for each process is the work of a process owner.   The process is the service and the people are the process.  So the people are the service, trying to be productive each and every day within their process.  Getting processes to work as a system is about getting people to work together toward a final objective.

When leaders ignore process they ignore the people that are the service.  And that never turns out well with your customer.  A current TV show has CEO’s come down from their lofty perches to work ordinary jobs to get a feel for the people and what they do day in and day out.   In a recent episode, the CEO was stunned at the impossibility of work processes.  Workers were stressed out, fought with each other and delivered poor service to customers.  As you can well imagine, no one believed in the CEO much less the CEO’s vision, as he soon found out!

Download Service Design - Service Blueprinting

this short .ppt overview of customer-focused process design and Service Blueprinting …

A smart CEO might hand the problem over for process redesign.  He might also say with empathy that this is just the wrong way to treat these people and the customer, and do what is necessary to make it right for both.  Theoretically, the two statements lead to the same place.  But the former continues with the same disconnected state between leadership and people while the latter begins a transformation.

The point of all this is to remind ourselves that working with processes in a services organization is about working with people.  That when we see leadership disconnected from the concerns of process we probably see leadership disconnected from people.  And when we find that situation we’ll probably find dysfunctional teams and dissatisfied customers.  BUT,  when we see leadership concerned with making processes work we will see people who find their jobs fair and who are dedicated to their mission, which should lead to more satisfied and loyal customers.

So all of us as leaders and members of a team need to think about the processes upon which our vision is built because, in so doing, we think about the people in the organization and the customer of our service.  And everyone in that chain will notice the attention, how their work is made easier and thus buys into the larger vision.  If you’d like to discuss the points in this article, contact me.

Service Design vs. Product Design – 5 Key Differences

December 19th, 2011 1 comment

Designing a product and designing services have many similarities but also key differences.  Both need clean VOC, clear definition of CTQs, stakeholder input and intelligent tollgates.  But the differences in the design process for the two are far greater.  And those differences are defined by the nature of products versus the nature of services.  So here are the top ten differences in their nature.

Service Design vs. Product Design - DifferencesHow do these attributes change the design process?  Well imagine how difficult it is to know if you have the right design if you can’t easily measure different attempts since repeatability and storability are issues.  And you really aren’t sure what you can measure since quality is defined by the customer’s experience of an outcome more than measuring the attributes of output.  And imagine what happens to multi-generational planning when you have to factor in how difficult it is to maintain your moat of defensibility for a new service without the right of a patent. Time and again basic elements of a design process are scraped or reinvented in an attempt to build a proxy for what is normally taught and practiced as good design principles.

In the end, you essentially have to nearly start over n building your design process for a service.  Basics are retained but new elements must be introduced or emphasized.  In a recent blog post, I point out how the basic principle of tollgates must be retained but mapping becomes the foundation to test, validate and repeat due to the absence of data.

Download service blueprinting

a short presentation on Service Blueprinting now ……..

At Qualtec, we’ve built a new design process or roadmap and established a set of tools to support each step of the way.  We will continue to write about this subject as we find there is a real dearth of information available.  But we also welcome your input and so if you’d like to discuss the differences and how to adapt to them, we invite you to contact us.

Service Design – Service Blueprinting and Tollgates add Much-needed Structure ….

December 7th, 2011 Comments off

Service Design | Services BlueprintingIn our design course we present an argument that over 70% of a product’s total cost is captured within its design process.  Based on that assumption, we go on to argue the most impactful activity a company can make to lower the cost of new products is to improve its design process. While we don’t cite similar statistics for a service, we believe the basic principals are the same.

Within Service Design, we believe there are two activities that we have observed service companies don’t aggressively pursue and which, if improved, could dramatically improve its cycle times, costs and perceived customer service quality.  Specifically, intensive mapping and tollgating are two basic design process and design principles that service companies would be well served to improve.

Tollgates should serve as business reviews and not technical reviews.  Tollgate business reviews should include cross-functional teams that are named based upon the business risk of the project.  Some new service offerings should include the CEO and others shouldn’t require such attention.  Tollgate reviews should include discussions about project risk, customer requirements, financial objectives and schedule/timeline.

Certainly, when constructing customer requirements for the service, there should be some form of VOC, such as a quantitative or qualitative survey, and conversion to CTQs using some form of decision matrix or tool such as a QFD.  But customer input shouldn’t stop after setting initial customer requirements.

Customers should be part of the tollgate process.  They should be treated as a stakeholder just like everyone that is part of the cross-functional team.  Of course, design incorporates a lot of proprietary information that is part of an entity’s business model and which a company certainly doesn’t want to disclose to its customers as it risks the very essence of their value proposition.  This is especially true for B2B service companies.

Download service design - Tollgate Process a short .ppt dealing with tollgate reviews in the service design process …

The key to incorporating the customer in the tollgate process and still maintaining a protective shield on your value proposition is to know when and on what to include the client.  A valuable tool to identify those points is a service blueprint that details all the “on stage” points of customer interaction.  These are the customer input points.  It is here that they form their perception of service quality.

Service companies still have very ad hoc service design processes.  Process mapping and tollgate reviews are two simple tools that can put some initial structure into service design.  Service Blueprinting, a form of process mapping, is a great tool to understand how to extend tollgate reviews to include customer feedback during design.  The stronger the design process, the shorter the lead times, lower the costs and higher the perceived customer experience.  If you would like to discuss any of these concepts or how to implement them, contact me.

Service Innovation and Design – Help me help you …

November 30th, 2011 Comments off

Service Innovation - Help me help youRecognizing co-production as the core concept of service innovation leads service providers to rich deposits of waste, the extraction of which adds tremendous value to a customer relationship.  And, failing to recognize the interdependence leads to suboptimal solutions.

When providing a service, whether B2B or B2C, we too often view the flow of activity as simply going one way.  In actuality, there is a constant flow of information and activity in both directions as you and your customer move along the continuum of operations that deliver the ultimate job.  This is especially true in B2B businesses that have another end consumer to a co-produced good or service.

Too often we give the notion of this relationship a friendly nod but fail to incorporate it into our work.  We fail to respect this interdependence because we all look for control in our work.  The introduction of the notion of reliance on the interrelationship with our customer brings a highly uncontrollable input.  We have a difficult time telling the person to whom or entity to which we are attempting to satisfy a need that we need something from them.

Download service innovation

a short .ppt dealing with tollgate reviews in the service design process …

Service Innovation - Customer RequirementsBut as iconic movie star Tom Cruise, while playing sports agent Jerry McGuire, says to Cuba Gooding Jr.’s Rod Tidwell, playing his client, “Help Me Help You”.  It was when Jerry McGuire recognized the interdependence between his actions and his clients that success accrued to both of them.  Your clients’ actions as your partner may be uncontrollable but they remain undeniable.  And when they are recognized, great opportunities open to provide more value and earn more profit by capturing a portion of it themselves.

The first step in recognizing this co-production is to give it visibility.  The best way to do this is with various mapping activities.  You can value stream map the overall process, including both the service provider and clients’ activities.  This can be pursued further with customer mapping.  Another alternative is to perform service blueprinting, which specifically focuses on a service provider’s interactions with its customers.

For a further discussion on how to identify the interrelationships between you and your customer’s co-production so as to add value to your customer and capture value for your company, please contact me.