Systems Thinking

Six Steps to Service Improvement

Tripp Babbitt
Contributor: Tripp Babbitt
Posted: 05/28/2009

Command and control thinkers believe that organizational change management comes from projects and project plans, cost-benefit analysis, deliverables, milestones, strategic plans and the like. Time wasted over and over again breaking things down, timelines, inter-dependencies identified, resources and skill sets . . . you get the idea.

Systems thinking reduces complexity by eliminating all this. The Vanguard Method begins with "check," which means understanding the "what and why" of current performance as a system.

Change begins at "check" in contrast to the command and control style of predetermination of outcomes. In the command and control world plans and projects are rarely returned to . . . they usually wind up in a neat binder on the executive’s desk. Worse, much time is taken to cover-up failings and milestones are extended, manipulated or constantly adjusted.

The Vanguard Model for check follows a six step process:

1. What is the purpose? At each service touchpoint (where the customer transacts business with service company), what is the purpose of this service from the customer's standpoint?

2. What are the types and frequencies of demand? Managers must go to the point(s) of transaction to find out. Why do they call? What do they want or need? What matters? Are the demands value or failure?

3. How well does the system respond to demand? How well does your service respond to these demands?

4. Study the Flow. Only after studying demand and measuring how well the service is performed do we study flow.

5. Understand what system conditions exist. Systems build their own waste from command and control thinking.
Work design, information technology, contracts, targets, structure, scripts, etc. are all potential conditions that add waste to the system.

6. Review management thinking. Learning is not something for the front-line only, managers learn through this process. They can see the waste caused by command and control thinking.

Doing "check" creates the mindset and momentum for business improvement. Purpose and measures change in systems thinking.

There is a better way.

First published on New Systems Thinking Blog

Tripp Babbitt
Contributor: Tripp Babbitt
Posted: 05/28/2009

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