Thoughts on how companies do it

It's not rocket science

Customer service the lego way

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Legoland Windsor – great place with friendly staff. At a food stand ordered chicken pieces with chips and a chicken sandwich. Could we have the sandwich without fries and a drink? No we couldn’t. Was this because the assistant is unable to not put fries in a box or not fill a drinks carton? I think she could manage that. Or was it that the training is to sell only what is on the order pad (electronic)? Was it that the process is so inlexible it cannot cope? Was it that customer demand falls behind the process? Was it that Lego think that the service is all in the smile of the attendant and not the product? I think perhaps it was all a combination of these. Service implies delivery of a product. Friendly service adds to the product experience it is not the product. It is also further evidence of process design being outward and not flowing from the customer.
If we look at the costs here. The chips will cost nothing and the drink will be negligible. However by always serving them when the customer may not want them the risk is that the demand for fries and cola is incorrectly inflated.
Let’s design from the customer’s views. Let’s record what they actually ask for and develop our process from there.


Written by rgboulter

July 26, 2010 at 9:08 am

Posted in Madness

Tagged with

Mao lives

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When we deliver at work, who do we do it for, our manager or for a company vision?
More and more companies appear to be tying themselves to an individual. With large companies the influence of these individuals lies in the team they appoint. How much can these top teams do? If we believe the markets then the efforts of the rest of us count for less and less.
The markets then relie on the actions of a few individuals. If the markets like the individual the share price rises. Capitalism is now the cult of the individual. Mao would be proud.
Lenin dealt with a threat like this with an icepick in Trotsky’s head. We need to take an icepick to the personalities in the city. Executives are the custodians of the comany vision and its values.
So long as the two are in line working for the individual makes sense.
Where we get asked to work for someone, I have no problem with this. The minute the two become separate we will get problems. Beware the cult of the personality and its apostles in the city

Written by rgboulter

June 18, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Posted in Companies, Work

Solutions not blame

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It’s not often one can sympathise with someone earning £6 million a year, but the public verbal flogging of Tony Hayward nearly earned it.
The enquiry didn’t seem a step up from a witch trial. You, Hayward, we’re going to blame you whatever the facts.
Some of those southern senators even managed to get a bite in on Obamma.
But aren’t these interests the ones that deregulated the oil industry? Oh and look, it’s come back to bite them.
And aren’t these ones the same interests that have done all they can to make sure that the US continues to be so dependent on oil?
Perhaps that’s also why they seem incapable of looking for solutions to avoid oil dependency?
Those angry voices are perhaps a little scared that people might think the risks of oil addiction and the risks in getting it are to high.
Without options disasters like this will happen more frequently.

Written by rgboulter

June 18, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Posted in Madness

You can call me Al but don’t call it Agile

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So much stuff being written about the Agile methodology for delivering projects, but what is clearly striking me is that the PM and BA orthodoxy are merely swapping one set of rigid processes (waterfall) for another in Agile.  Leopards cannot change their spots.

Come on people, Agile and processes do not really mix.  The rules and “dos and don’ts” just seem to be more and more reasons for those that love rules and processes to push them into what was an exciting chance to do things differently.

Echoing my own earlier post on a related subject, no process has ever produced anything.  To produce something in a project you need PEOPLE!  I can only hope that the next craze will be one about how we manage people to do what’s needed. 

See the people arguing about the pros and cons of this or that process do so not because of the process but what they have personally invested.  It could be that you run a training seminar on how to do Agile (how crazy is that, that people need to be trained how to do their job, which is deliver!) or a seminar in some other methodology, and therefore money and or pride muddy the water.  It could be that you are an advocate of Agile, and you do so for a whole host of reasons but none to do with the Agile process.  Similarly you could be the manager or customer pressing for delivery, but the issue here is nothing to do with Agile but rather the series of disappointments that people have caused you or one of a hundred other reasons.  The key though is to understand the people.

Too often  the drawback to successful change to one or the other is therefore in the minds of the people and the security of the blankets they hold.  Therefore to comfort themselves coming from a rigid waterfall regime they bring as many rules and processes they come.  We the become less and less agile and still nothing gets delivered.

If a leopard can’t change its spots, change the animal

Written by rgboulter

May 30, 2010 at 8:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Customers, eh?

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Let’s make a rule: no one is allowed to make a decision about a customer if they are more than two connections away from the customer.

Written by rgboulter

April 21, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Posted in Madness, Work

Civil Servants to improve themselves? Shurely Shome Mishtake….

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….alas it’s not, so I’ll have that drink now please!  What timing though, no sooner do I post on the failings with Six Sigma and anything else that asks the managers to look down and sort things, but David Cameron’s electoral pledge has got Whitehall scuttling.  It seems, according to BBC News today, that civil servant leaders have today started to bunker down to work out how they can make those savings.  Ummm, does this not sound like managers looking down at their empire deciding what needs fixing? 

All it needs is for them to take a step back, look at the whole thing as a system and start seeing how this big organisation looks like from the customer perspective.  Let’s then see what adds value…you know, might even offer my services to Mr C!

Written by rgboulter

April 8, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Posted in Companies, Madness

Six Sigma? You need to train me to think like a customer?

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It’s like a rash that’s spread all over the corporate body and the more you look at it the worse it gets.  To start fixing any customer facing organisation it  first needs to check itself against its customers and what they want.  Simple enough but no, not if you want to use Six Sigma.  (Btw, here’s a test: speak to anyone you know outside of work and ask them if they understand my second sentence.  Then ask them if they understand what is meant by Six Sigma.)

To understand Six Sigma you need to go on weeks and weeks of training (away from the customer) and become accredited by the Six Sigma providers.  So Six Sigma certifies Six Sigma.  Nice and cosey.  It’s even better when they then give themselve karate sounding levels of attainment.  Customers pay companies to do this! “Hey” say the customers “I’m here, come and see what we want!”

I’m going to bow down to the super John Seddon here.  As he says, Six Sigma is all about training managers and trained managers interviewing managers about what they see.  Not actually looking at the work that is done.  So Six Sigma starts from managers looking down at their system.  Six Sigma does not it seem  do anything to actually challenge the managers point of view.

Furthermore it’s seen as focusing on costs, elitism, and measures it’s effectiveness through the amount of training they receive and an endless ream of statistical output.  Six Sigma provides grand training, wonderful reporting and elaborate terms. 

And companies want to pay people to do all this?  It truly is a mad mad mad world. 

I’m going to d

Written by rgboulter

April 7, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Posted in Companies, Madness