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Tripp Babbitt

Quality Insider

Seven Perspectives that Pollute Customers and Culture

Recognize them?

Published: Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 15:34

Are you losing customers? Is your employee morale low? Is your management focused on the wrong things?

Customers come into contact with your culture daily. Culture is shaped by your organization’s perspective on work and how best to do work. Your organizational performance is the result of the interaction of customer and culture.

Organizations have adopted perspectives that are familiar. Only the brave organization will step outside the norm and try other perspectives. Distinction is typically lost to sameness. This would be OK, if the sameness delivered great service.

It does not.

Service organizations have many of the same perspectives from one organization to the next. In fact, there are seven perspectives that emerge that create this “sameness.”

So, what are the seven perspectives found in service organizations?
1. The individual perspective
2. The self-centered perspective
3. The cure-all perspective
4. The control perspective
5. The financial perspective
6. The functional perspective
7. The productivity perspective

The individual perspective

The individual perspective highlights the individuality that the U.S. culture espouses. The individual must pull himself or herself up to succeed. U.S. organizations hire the best, promote the best, making winners and losers.

Improvements come from improving the system and not the individual. Cooperation is needed to improve a system. Improving the individual, even a lot, will not equal small improvements for all employees.

The self-centered perspective

Most organizations take an inside-out or top-down perspective. Activities are focused on internal goals and objectives—like profit, power, and bonuses.

Organizations are caught up in selfish arrogance. Customers are routinely ignored in favor of internal satisfaction.

The cure-all perspective

Technology, best practices, copying, programs, tools, and certifications have one thing in common: We think that if we just have more, or do more, of these things, the organization will improve. However, few organizations actually look at the evidence associated with thier investment to see if it was worth it. Once the decision is made, evidence is ignored.

Copying other organizations will always leave you behind. Often the perceived “best practice” is more of a fantasy rather than something that can work in your organization. You have different customers, processes, culture, technology, and other elements that are unique to you.

The control perspective

Organizational management that dictates procedures, scripts, rules, and policy, and then inspects and audits for compliance, increases costs, kills morale, and stifles innovation. Employees become organizational zombies that seek compliance rather than being innovation juggernauts.

Control is expensive and increases complexity. Customers have a much harder time navigating the complexity. Workers lack critical decision-making skills in this environment because the decisions are made for them.

The financial perspective

The financial perspective overlaps the self-entered perspective. Nevertheless, it deserves its own category. The focus on financial targets creates dysfunction in organizations. The financial success of an organization is the result of providing a wanted service or product. Yet organizations pursue financial results over a method for achieving them.

The functional perspective

Have you ever noticed that organizations are designed the same way? Operations, sales, marketing, human resources, information technology, and finance are all functionally split disciplines. Higher education teaches based on these disciplines. Disciplines are man-made and are used to make sense of the world.

Customers see your organization as a whole system. Functional areas with specialists are designs that prevent customers from getting what is important to them. The functional splits lead to lost revenue.

Competition between functional areas in the same system is prevalent when paired with financial targets. Departments competing for resources leads to in-fighting and waste.

The productivity perspective

The “productivity perspective” is a leftover from Frederick Taylor and scientific management. Activity and volumes were measured over quality. The result was lots of product accompanied by lots of waste.

What perspectives does your organization embrace?

There may be other beliefs, assumptions, legends, and myths in your organization that aren’t identified by these seven. You need to take inventory—without judgment—of what perspectives drive your organization.

“What if... ” you used a set of different perspectives? What would be the result? How would you know?

Organizations that experiment with different perspectives—or principles—may find something better. This will be the subject of my next column.

Discuss

About The Author

Tripp Babbitt’s picture

Tripp Babbitt

Tripp Babbitt is a service design architect who helps organizations discover a better way to improve thier service. His 95 Method is about giving organizations a method to try out different design ideas leading to better service.  Start by downloading his free ebook or book an on-site workshop. Babbitt can be reached at tripp@newsystemsthinking.com. Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt