Video: Investing in Upstream Flow

This is the video of my talk from KCE London on 8th January 2015 where I spoke on how to invest in upstream flow by landscaping a smooth river from idea to execution.

It’s great when teams reach delivery maturity with execution at speed and high quality. It’s no surprise that there’s so much emphasis on this because there are still so many people struggling. But it’s important that we don’t just learn how to do the wrong things well.

Organisations need a smoothly functioning upstream system that can take in good ideas from anywhere, triage and decide which get investment. Then safely shepherd and grow them through to adolescence until they are ready to be implemented. This is key to doing the right things well. Together with some examples, we explore a range of tools and overall approaches that can build this upstream flow and open the session out to leverage the experiences and ideas of the group.

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Lean Product Development: Sleepwalking to Electric Sheep

The original book behind Blade Runner, Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was set in 1992.

When it comes to modern change approaches – particularly those that come from IT, like this reference from ThoughtWorks – then I believe in 2014 we’re not only dreaming about electric sheep, we’re designing and building them.

It’s time to wake up and realise that change is first and foremost about people and the work they do. And so we need to fully involve them in shaping that work and changes to it. Technology is essential to delivering change but isn’t a good way to lead that change.

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Delivering Great Services: Merge the best of people and technology (Part I)

In the last few decades of service design we’ve gone from one extreme (people serving people without computers – *engaged tone*), through an intermediate stage (people serving people with computers – “Sorry, the system’s down at the moment”) to another extreme (computers serving people without people – “Error. Invalid service request.” or the exasperated frustration of millions in front of their computer screens).

This is often hailed as progress – yet services today are just as frustrating to deal with and customer satisfaction is poor. Everyone has their own computerised service nightmare story.

Why is this? It’s because in our haste to believe that technology would solve all our problems, we’ve misunderstood how services work and jumped straight to the wrong solution.

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Bringing the Citizen back into Digital Service Design

Today’s narrow focus on digital risks elevating it to become the purpose of services instead of the real purpose: serving citizens

Digital services are in vogue and the UK government has been changing both how they are implemented (using agile techniques) and how they are procured (smaller suppliers, G-Cloud and other frameworks).

With the creation of the Government Digital Service (GDS), “digital” is now at the heart of the Cabinet Office. With the creation of “Digital by Default” it is now impossible to ignore technology when delivering services.

Much of this is a welcome break from poor past practices and there is much to be admired. But there remains something missing and a potentially dangerous risk.

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How do you Build Trust and get Executive Sponsorship?

In this Transformation Dialogues video, Ann Blythman interviews me to understand how to build trust when implementing change and how to get executive sponsorship for bigger changes.

I discuss how trust can be built through a series of small successful steps and how significant changes can be implemented without jeopardising existing targets and performance standards.

Through the example of a new Customer Service System, we explore how to find out early what customers need and whether expensive new solutions will provide them. We finish up discussing how managers can get executive sponsorship for changes that they want to implement.

I hope you enjoy this video and more that follow soon in the Transformation Dialogues series.

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How do you Involve Customers in Improving Services?

In this Transformation Dialogues video, Ann Blythman interviews me to understand how to improve services by involving customers and building them into the development of the service.

I discuss how to bring customers in to the service design and development process, the importance of understanding variation and variability and why accommodating both in service design is so important. We cover the importance of testing out theories with real customers to find out if they work – not getting stuck in a “Theory Space”.

Through the example of Customer Segmentation we explore typical problems and their solutions including how to break down improvements into small discrete steps. I discuss the twin follies of thinking of process improvement as a process engineering problem and local optimisations – we cover how to put customers first and, how to re-organise internally to take big steps forward.

I hope you enjoy this video and more that follow soon in the Transformation Dialogues series.

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