1. To forecast the future, look outside your industry

    March 20, 2016 by ahmed

     

    Originally posted on Linkedin by Neil Blumenthal

    The most powerful influences likely come from outside your company’s sphere, not from within it. Warby Parker, the company I co-founded, sells eyewear. But we aren’t looking at competitive threats within the eyewear industry, because there simply isn’t a great deal of innovation within the eyewear industry.

    Instead, we’re looking at companies like Amazon, which hugely change customer perceptions and expectations about things that affect Warby Parker – like how easy it is to order something online (or through other internet-enabled methods like Echo and the Dash button) and, of course, how quickly that item arrives.

    Amazon has trained customers to expect items to arrive within two days. Or sometimes even within one day. I was reminded of this when I recently bought a pair of pants at a boutique in New York. It took two and a half weeks to get the pants tailored, and then a series of phone calls to figure out when I could pick up the pants or whether they’d send the pants to me. By the time the pants came, I’d spent way more time thinking about pants logistics than I ever wanted to. And, while it may sound crazy, I really believe that I don’t enjoy wearing the pants as much as I would have had they arrived on time without a hassle. One’s perception of a product is based on the entirety of the brand experience – from the moment someone hears about the brand to their decision to shop, to selecting an item, transacting, waiting for the product to arrive, unboxing and using the product over time.

    Uber is another example. On the surface, we have little in common with a mobile ride hail company. But Uber influences UX and customer interaction experiences for every company in every industry. For a prime example, I don’t have to look any further than myself! I often use Uber, but on the occasions when I do hail a yellow cab, I find myself noticing anew all the unnecessary steps built into the process: telling the driver your address, paying with a credit card, selecting a tip, and sometimes signing a physical receipt.

    A third example is GrubHub Seamless. Out of convenience (and a regrettable lack of cooking ability), I often order food online from local restaurants. Remember when you had to phone a restaurant to place an order? And read your credit card number three times over the phone? And you always ended up standing in that weird corner of your apartment that didn’t get service? None of this needs to happen anymore. We can order with a click. Why cultivate patience when instant gratification is so easy to obtain?

    Ultimately, it pays to get a broader view of how a handful of companies are redefining how we shop, eat, drive, and live. If you want to forecast the future of your own industry, look outside of it.


  2. Hot tips to increase customer satisfaction

    March 12, 2016 by ahmed

     

    Originally posted on Biztorming by Luciana Paulise

    Customer is king, but do customers actually feel like they are kings?

    That’s’ a very good question. Poor customer service cost companies billions of dollars every year. And sometimes owners don’t even know about it. Customer satisfaction is hard to measure, but it I not impossible. Repeat sales, customer loyalty, recommendation to friends and customer claims are key performance indicators. While you can try to measure them, you need to focus on how to improve them.

    To increase customer satisfaction, you need to work on the 5 key aspects they value most: the product itself, the user, due care, customer service and finally the personnel.

    1. The product itself: The consumer is the most important part of the production line. Customers are the ones that put our company into business, they buy our products, so products need to be suited to them, that’s why Deming, the famous statistician would say that the consumer was the most important part of the production line. He would also say that it is easy to go broke making the wrong product or offering the wrong service. Companies need to increase value through products and services that delight customers, because profit and growth don’t come from the satisfied customer: Satisfied customers switch, for no good reason, just to try something else. They come from the loyal customer. He requires no advertising or persuasion, and he brings a friend along with him.
    2. User: Customer surveys and mystery shoppers are great tools to get to know the voice of your customer. Demands vary from year to year and from market to market, so it is necessary to study customer requirements deeply through Statistical methods such as run charts or scatter diagrams to determine the type pf product that will sell as it links studies of the consumer preferences with the design of products, improving competitive position. Top management then must bring design and customer research together. After starting a project and gathering VOC (voice of the customer) data, it is time to define the critical-to-quality outputs. To prioritize their actions during this process, practitioners may use a quality function deployment (QFD), also known as the house of quality. There are also new tools and methodologies to get the VOC faster and cheaper.
      Social networks: using Facebook, twitter, Instagram, blogs and other networking tools to promote your business, you can not only engage your audience and let them know what you are up to, but you can also get the their insights, depending on the number visits, likes, favorites and comments.
      All ears Personnel: employees are one of the best source of information in regards to customer desires. They should be trained not only to assist the customer but also to listen to them and communicate their needs to upper management.
      Pilot tests: many Entrepreneurs are already into it to develop new products. The most successful startups are applying the Lean startup methodology , which focus on WORKING SMARTER NOT HARDER, that is experimenting with your product as you soon as you have a first version and letting your early adopters test it for you, telling you what they like and what they don’t. A core component of Lean Startup methodology is the build-measure-learn feedback loop. The first step is figuring out the problem that needs to be solved and then developing a minimum viable product (MVP) to offer the customer in order to begin the process of learning.
    3. Due Care: How the user uses the product is important. If the user doesn’t understand it, or doesn’t know how to take care of it, it can reduce his loyalty. Market research can also be used to understand how the product is used, installed and how it is taken care of. Instructions for use of the product and warnings on miss use are part of the records that establish the amount of care taken on the part of the manufacturer.
    4. Customer service: Deming would also say that “No one can measure loss of business that may arise from a defective product that goes to a customer”, that’s why quality of the products are so important. Quality of the products needs to be taken care of to avoid customer complaints and frustration. In the case the defective product goes to a customer, the company needs to take serious action. There must be a customer service department to help customers to use the product, to assist them if it is broken or to receive complaints about defects.
    5. Trained personnel: Front line employees in charge of customer service should be trained to be able to help the customer and provide information to improve the products, as they need to make customers come back, not their products. Front line employees are usually the less trained, the new ones in the Company, but they are also the first contact of the customer. They should be better trained than anyone on describing products and providing excellent service. They key from great companies is that they don’t only focus on the front line employees but also make sure everyone in the Company appreciates the customer, from the accounting department to the cleaning services. Answers like “ I am not in charge”, or “That’s not my business” should be banned. The customer should be the King no matter where you work.

     

    Happy customers who get their issues solved tell 5 people about their experience, but a dissatisfied customer will tell 11 people about their experience

    Any contact with the customer should be an opportunity to drive satisfaction. Several researches show that happy customers who get their issues solved tell 5 people about their experience, but a dissatisfied customer will tell 11 people about their experience. So always remember, the key to business success is keeping your customer satisfaction rates higher than your competition!


  3. Does your organisation have best practices in one of the following 13 areas?

    February 25, 2016 by ahmed

    dwl

    The Dubai Government Excellence Programme’s (DGEP) “Dubai We Learn” initiative consists of a range of organisational learning and benchmarking activities. The initiative aims to empower a culture of institutional learning and the transfer and exchange of knowledge within the government sector.

    One key part of the initiative is the undertaking of 13 benchmarking projects that are facilitated by the Centre of Organisational Excellence Research (COER), New Zealand. All 13 projects are using the TRADE Best Practice Benchmarking methodology with an expectation that most projects will be completed within a year (the projects began in October 2015). Currently most projects are starting the “Acquire best practices” stage of TRADE and searching for benchmarking partners and learning best practices.

    It is for this purpose we are inviting organisations with “good” to “best practices” in these 13 areas, Click this link, to contact us to explore if there is an opportunity for mutual learning. The respective government entity will be happy to share with you its own practices and the project work it has conducted so far. We would also be pleased to share with you best practices from other Dubai We Learn participants to thank you for your assistance.

    If you can help in our search for best practices, please send an email to Dr Robin Mann, Director – Centre for Organisational Excellence Research, r.s.mann@massey.ac.nz.

    For more information on “Dubai We Learn” read here.


  4. Dubai Municipality Leading the Way in Government Initiatives

    January 23, 2016 by ahmed

    Dubai We Learn Logos

    The Dubai Government Excellence Programme’s (DGEP) Dubai We Learn” initiative consists of a range of organisational learning and benchmarking activities as described in a previous blog “Identifying and Applying Best Practices for Government”

    At the 2nd Progress Sharing Day held on 18 January 2016, 13 project teams from 13 government departments shared the progress of their benchmarking projects. To maximise the engagement and learning of the government entities the audience were invited to vote on which teams had made most progress.

    The team judged to have made most progress were from the Dubai Municipality with its project to “Improve Purchase Procedures and Channels”. Other government entities recognised for their progress were the Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Service for its project on “Development of Emirati Paramedic Leaders” and Mohamed Bin Rashid Enterprise for Housing for its project on “Improving Customer Experience” particularly through using SMART applications. Regardless of the voting, all teams demonstrated an exceptional dedication to their projects.

    Dubai_Municipality_Team

    All projects are using the TRADE Best Practice Benchmarking methodology with an expectation that most projects will be completed within a year (the projects began in October 2015). Currently most projects are in the “Research” stage of TRADE and making sure that they have a deep understanding of their processes, systems and performance before moving to the “Acquire” stage. The Acquire stage is where the teams will be identifying benchmarking partners and learning best practices.

    Dubai Municipality have made substantial strides in its procurement process in recent years including becoming the first government department in the Emirate to introduce web-based automation across its entire procurement cycle and achieving recognition at a number of international awards (CIPS Middle East Awards 2015 – Most Improved Procurement Operation ). The procurement department’s project for Dubai We Learn aims to reduce the average cycle time of processing purchase requisitions from 16 to 12 days or less. The team have studied in depth their current procurement system and performance using process analysis tools such as: workload analysis, value stream analysis, influence – interest matrix, customers segmentation, fishbone diagram, process flowchart analysis and waste analysis. As a result of this analysis a number of areas for improvement were identified such as ensuring that technical specifications are correctly detailed and how to quickly evaluate potential suppliers for technical purchases, and how to automate these processes. The next stage of their project will be to identify relevant organisations to learn from.

    At the Progress Sharing Day the performance of all the teams was commended by the Executive Council of Dubai and Dubai Government Excellence Programme (DGEP). His Excellency Abdulla Al Shaibani – Secretary General of the Executive Council of Dubai and Dr. Ahmed Al Nuseirat – General Coordinator of Dubai Government Excellence Programme, both delivered speeches and encouraged the teams to maintain their momentum.

    Are you implementing a best practice in any area related to the 13 projects below? If so, we would like to hear from you. Please email ahmed@bpir.com for more details.

    Government EntityProject title
    Dubai Cooperation for Ambulance ServicesDevelopment of Emirati Paramedic’s Leaders
    Dubai CourtsPersonal Status Smart Certifications Services
    Dubai CultureDeveloping National Human Resources for Museums
    Dubai Electricity & Water AuthorityShams Dubai Initiative
    Dubai Land DepartmentTowards Happy Employees
    Dubai MunicipalityImproving Purchase Procedures and Channels
    Dubai Police Head QuarterSmart Police Officer
    Dubai Statistics CenterInnovative Statistics
    General Directorate of Residency & Foreigners Affairs DubaiDeveloping a World-Class Customer Service Design Process
    Knowledge & Human Development AuthorityPeople Happiness
    Mohamed Bin Rashid Enterprise for HousingImproving Customer Experience
    Public ProsecutionJudicial Knowledge Management
    Road and Transport AuthorityRTA’s Knowledge Repository Gateway

    For more information about this initiative download the attached article and sign-up up to COER’s newsletter to receive the latest updates.

     


  5. Managing By Commitments – 5 Disruptive Practices To Improve Execution

    January 10, 2016 by ahmed

     

    Originally posted on Management Exchange by David Arella

     

    Summary

    Failure to execute is the key 21st century management problem. Current work-norms are dysfunctional. There is one profoundly simple thing we can change that will dramatically improve execution – we need to get better at making and keeping commitments. Simple, but radical practices are described. New supporting systems are coming.

    Problem

    The biggest problem today is not creating visions, nor developing plans. The real problem is a failure to execute. Balls get dropped, deadlines are missed, deliveries are half-done, priorities constantly change, projects overrun budgets, initiatives don’t get accomplished. And it’s easy to see why. We have an overload of messages and communication to wade through. Communication about execution is more and more conducted remotely, not face-to-face or even in real time. Coordination is more difficult as organizations become more and more matrixed, and as the need for collaboration increases, personal accountability becomes more diluted and unclear. Employee engagement is in decline. A return to 20th century command and control hierarchy will not work, as today’s workforce wants more influence over decisions that effect their day to day work, not less. The solution is to develop new processes that both improve execution and simultaneously create more commitment.

    Solution

    Managing by Commitments – A Brief History

    Managing by commitments is not a new idea. Commitment Based Management was first introduced as an innovative management practice in the 1980’s with the work of Fernando Flores (UC Berkeley) and Terry Winograd (Stanford). They described a “conversation for action” where two parties make an explicit agreement to deliver a specific outcome by a certain date. The core idea was that the performer was required to negotiate a specific commitment, leading to more buy-in to meeting the commitment and therefore better results and a more collaborative environment. The process of a virtuous conversation between the requester and the performer was defined in three stages: negotiation, delivery, and assessment. Early implementations to enable this process were eventually perceived as too prescriptive and confining, but the core idea offered profound promise.

    Twenty-five years later the need for coordination and collaboration has grown many-fold. Accountability is even more diffused. Communication overload has reached epidemic proportions with new and multiple channels operating at once, but the communication is unstructured and not presented in a useful context. Technology advancements enable better access and easier adoption. It’s time to reinvent and reinvigorate management by resurrecting the core principles and practices of Commitment Based Management, but with better implementations.

    Commitments Drive Better Execution

    There is one profoundly simple thing we can change that will dramatically improve execution – we need to get better at making and keeping commitments. It’s as simple as saying what you’re going to do and then doing what you said. Simple, but not easy.

    Scrutiny reveals that our common work norms do not support this principle. In fact, many common work practices actually get in the way. People make vague requests. Actual performers are unspecified. Delivery dates are proposed without confirmation – if they are mentioned at all. Agreements to deliver, when they are obtained, shift and derail without clear dialog. Expressions of satisfaction with the delivery, or of dissatisfaction, are absent. Closure is rarely achieved.

    Even worse than these mechanical flaws, we are all familiar with the attendant interpersonal breakdowns. Team members are silent about their cynicism toward a proposed request. Real engagement by employees is lacking, and there is little incentive for contributing any discretionary effort. People work on their favored assignments and leave other tasks to decay. Low trust that deliveries will be met on time forces a need for backup systems and frequent check-ups by “management”.

    We all have accepted this dysfunction for a long time. Isn’t it time to disrupt the old system and try something new? Let’s get back to basics and recreate our working relations around the foundational principle of “say what you’re going to do, and do what you said”.

    Negotiating a commitment, rather than being coerced or given an assignment has powerful implications. Accountability is increased since the performer has ownership over the commitment (because they had a real part in creating it). Clarity and transparency build trust between both parties. “Requestor” confidence is increased many fold. The quality of the ensuing dialog between performer and requestor removes vague assumptions and instead forms clear and realistic agreements. Our word creates a bond with the other person.

    Five Disruptive Practices For Making and Keeping Commitments

    Managing by commitments can be readily implemented with a small set of repeatable and observable behaviors. The behaviors are simple, but profound. They are as obvious as they are radical. The following 5 disruptive practices describe what such an approach would look like:

    1. Make requests, not assignments. This practice is not limited to hierarchical roles; requests go down, up, and sideways within and outside organizations. Other roles include stakeholders and observers, but let’s be clear on who is being asked to deliver what to whom.

    The requester formulates an explicit request (i.e. in the form of a question, not a statement). For example, “Bill, can you get the spec to me by August 1?”; not “Bill, I need the spec by August 1.” Bill responds by making sure he understands the specific details and expectations associated with the request. A clear request is composed with a specific due date.

    2. Negotiate clear agreements. This is the part about “saying what you’re going to do.” For delivery dates that you cannot meet, make a counter-promise you can keep. The requester changes from a position of hope (i.e. “I assigned this task to Bill with an August 1 due date, and I’m hoping he will deliver.”), to a position of confidence (i.e. “Bill said an August 1 delivery was really a problem for him, but he committed to getting it to me by August 5”).

    Decline the request if you know you will not or cannot deliver. Make no mistake, however, this is a radical notion. Allowing team members at any level to “decline” requests from upper management would be a very disruptive concept in most organizations today. And yet, where performers never have the ability to say NO, there is not the possibility of a committed YES. The practice of negotiating commitments is not one most workers are adept at or even comfortable with; some personal courage is called for. This practice puts the performer more on a peer-to-peer footing with the requester, but yields clear accountability.

    3. Keep communication going during the delivery stage. Stuff happens along the way. Agreements are not guarantees that the delivery date will be met, but agreements must be honored in a manner that is far different than failing to deliver on an assignment dropped on your lap without dialog. Having made a promise to deliver, the performer is now obliged to alert their customer as soon as anything comes up that may interfere with meeting their agreement. An observable hallmark of this practice is early notice of potential problems with meeting a commitment.

    4. Present the deliverable explicitly. The performer makes a clear statement saying “Here is what I said I would deliver” or “This is why I could not deliver”. This is the essence and evidence of accountability. In our current work norms, this step is frequently “fudged”. Deliveries that are nearly complete slide in more or less on the day they were hoped for. It is rare for a performer to make a clear statement that today I am delivering on the agreement we made.

    5. When the requester, always acknowledge and assess the delivery. Honesty and truth demand an assessment as to whether the delivery met the original expectations. Answering the question – were you satisfied? – completes the cycle and assures closure. This underutilized practice is the minimum quid pro quo to the effort of the performer and serves to represent the customer’s accountability to honor the agreement. Moreover, these are the “golden moments” when feedback can enhance both future performance and trust. End-of-year performance reviews have lost much of their value, and this practice heightens the value of more continuous performance feedback.

    New Systems Are Needed

    Implementing management by commitments will rely heavily on a new generation of software systems. Acquiring and instantiating these new practices will require support and re-enforcement. New system implementations that take advantage of modern web, cloud, and mobile technologies will be needed. Software will help add structure to commitment conversations and then track agreements so they are more accountable, more observable, and more measurable. New systems to support these practices are coming, but leaders must embrace the concepts first.

    Practical Impact

    Accountability is clarified. Task ownership shifts to the performer. Instead of the manager saying “I’m counting on you”, the performer is saying “You can count on me.”

    Honesty is increased as the “unvarnished truth” can be told. Agreements are made around clearer expectations. A culture of openness and transparency evolves over time.

    Trust increases over time as commitments are honored. Meeting commitments is the single biggest contributor to building trust.

    New systems will make commitments observable and outcomes measurable.

    Employee engagement increases as they take a more active part in controlling their day to day work and agree to take on specific commitments.

    Execution improves dramatically. Early case studies have shown rapid and dramatic increases in measurable organization performance.

    First Steps

    Get Back to Basics

    We’ve colluded to make task delivery conversations vague and impersonal. Just assigning priorities masks the more fundamental problems of imprecise requests and lack of clear agreements. Our common work practices are packed with inefficiencies that dilute personal accountability.

    Make requests, negotiate commitments. We need to get back to basics by saying what you’ll do and doing what you say. We need to extract the core principles from earlier implementations and support a rebirth of managing by commitments with modern attitudes, technologies, and implementations.