Enabling the Lean Service Design Trilogy


Share on LinkedIn

This is the introduction page to the Trilogy Module of the Lean Service Design Trilogy Course. There is a special offer located on the page.

First, I would like to emphasis the importance of knowing, understanding how a customer/prospect views and uses your Service Products. In the Service/Train module, I introduced the pyramid of the Progressions of Economic Value and Valuable Intelligence from the book, The Experience Economy. Each level of economic value corresponds to a level of valuable intelligence (commodities to noise, goods to data, etc.). Value-Interactions

From the book:

While the economic offering becomes more and more intangible with each step up the next echelon, the value of the offering becomes more and more tangible. Economists often talk about the line of intangibility between goods and services to which we add the line of memorability before experiences and the line of sustainability before transformations. Goods and services remain outside of the individual, while experiences actually reach inside of the individual to the value of the offering.

They go on to say:

Nothing is more important, more abiding, or more wealth-creating than the wisdom required transforming customers. And nothing will command as high a price.

In the book Idealized Design, the authors used a similar hierarchy for the key terms involved in describing organizational learning. They are as follows:

  • Data consist of symbols that represent the properties of objects and events. They have little value until they have been processed into information Data are to information as iron ore is to iron. Little can be done with iron ore until it is processed into iron.
  • Information consists of data that has been processed to be useful. It is contained in descriptions, answers to question beginning with such words as what, who, when, when, and how many.
  • Knowledge is contained in instructions, answers to how-to questions.
  • Understanding is contained in explanations, answers to the why questions.
  • Wisdom is concerned with the value of outcomes, effectiveness, whereas the other four types of mental content are concerned with efficiency. Efficiency is concerned with doing things right; effectiveness is concerned with doing the right thing.

These key terms can help you in developing user stories and understanding how a customer may view your service offering. Do not underestimate the value of understanding current state. It serves as a guideline to communicate the opportunities so they may be prioritized and then acted upon. It helps build a shared and consistent understanding of the customer’s experience of your process and of your business as a whole. Understanding where your service product fits into the hierarchy above is one of the first steps in creating an effective Service Product.

Secondly, you should pay particular attention to identify critical control points (moments of truth) or interfaces with the customer. These critical points deserve special consideration as they typically will be the deciding factor for your customers. You may ask what they will look like. I typically find two obvious areas are the cause of most concern. First is the area of flow. If your service process does not flow well in its delivery to the customer, it seldom flows well for the customer. Your service must be in sync with the customer’s ability to react to the moment. A crystal ball would be great but if your typical customer takes three months to make a decision about your service, trying to accelerate or stretch that process out will seldom prove successful.

Thirdly, a clear-cut understanding of how that service meets your customer’s needs is imperative. A strong value proposition is the first step in building a successful service product. Many organizations struggle with this concept, do not utilize the tools available to understand their service product from the customers’ viewpoint. They are in love with what they do. Understanding how your customer perceives your position in the marketplace relative to your competition may be the single most important issue you face.

Many organizations try to build their first service product journeys into a simple stream or journey. I encourage breaking it down and allow for exceptions but don’t spend the energy scrutinizing each and every one. Seldom will your organization’s service products be so clear-cut that you have one customer journey. Many of the answers to these exceptions will be found as you take the deeper dive into the primary journey. One of the powers of mapping the customer journey is that it enables the team to see the entire picture. This coincides with the fundamental Lean thinking of optimizing the entire process versus the individual stages.

P.S. Many times exceptions are a result of limited resources. If this is a new service product, I would start by suggesting that you have unlimited resources then ask what the structure would look like.

Fourthly, respect your people. Trust your team knows how to improve their process more than anyone else. They can tell you if the paperwork, request for proposals, and specifications are flowing. They know the degree of misunderstandings that are occurring internally and with customers. And always remember, the customer experience will mimic the employee experience.

The fundamental goal should be one of discovery, learning and adaptability with a shared responsibility for a successful outcome. That implies that it is all about engaging both organizations into effective problem-solving and learning. In applying this, think of the customer journey in terms of a series of iterative loops of problem solving and knowledge creation. Taking this approach, each iterative cycle should be built around (adapted from the “Manifesto for Agile Software Development”):

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Content-rich material over-elaborate promotion
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Response to changing customer needs over following a plan

In ‘The no-nonsense guide to standardized work’, Robert Thompson explains;

Employees, not ‘outsiders’, study the jobs they know intimately in order to uncover best practices and create methodologies for continuous process improvement. Thus they become responsible for solving problems and own the standards that result.

In a Dennis Stevens post, Does Process Discipline Really Reduce Creativity?, he says:

Something I find interesting is the push back. I hear from Agile developers that process discipline will inhibit their creativity. They say, “Software development is a creative activity. If you put process rigor around it you will inhibit our creativity.” I have heard others complain about applying Lean concepts to software development. “This isn’t manufacturing,” they say, “There is no place for standard work in what we do.

These are the same arguments that I hear time and time again in developing standards for sales and marketing and service processes. The importance of standard work is that it is the starting point to create efficient and effective ways to communicate with your potential customers. Standard work begins with understanding the customer. We determine customer requirements and make sure we can deliver on those requirements. Delivering on these requirements consistently means that we need to be in control of our processes. And simply stated, we are only in control of our processes when we have documented procedures.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here