Design Thinking in Service Delivery
It has been a long standing muse of mine to think of service delivery from a design thinking or a product perspective.
As I read the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isacsson, what hits is that everything in world is designed by someone. There is good and bad design — in nature itself.
Taste and instinct for good design is often a characterstic that is inbuilt — usually in people who are manifest as productivity geeks or perfectionists, who in the process make lifes of people around them miserable.
They repeat the thinking processes, reject results, berate colleagues and never rest until THEY are satisfied with the result. And usually that sense of satisfaction becomes harder to get and achieve as the protagonist becomes more and more of an expert or a specialist.
Eventually arriving at stunning deliveries of results.
As accountants / consultants, design thinking is not intuitive. While we may have been applying the principles themselves, we don’t think of every step as a process. We don’t think we are design thinking. We hardly give importance to presentation. We do not build in checks and balances. We don’t aim to Wow the customer — other than through flashes of brilliance.
What, however, is happening is that the access to content is making expertise democratic. Skill cannot be googled, but information can. You can no longer hoard the steps involved in say, setting up a Company.
An 18 year old student called me yesterday for a chat regarding setting up a Company to host her patent!!. She had already googled the pluses and minuses of which form of organization to go after. She wanted me to add value on top of it — not quote a textbook.
The world is changing — or as Bob Dylan said, The Times, they are A-changing.
To be able to add value, any service provider has to now give value. Value in a way the customer has a tactile feel to. That feel has to be backed by something deep — an essence or a core that is driven towards quality. There is no other way.
In a first pass to designing a service delivery function, we came up with 3 principles:
1. Purpose Build — Every process has to be purpose built — remove the excess steps. You should know why you are doing what.
2. Ensure quality — even the unseen parts have to be good. Design is not just external — it has to go to the essence
3. Package — It is about external as well — It has to look good. It has to feel good
Lets go through these in a bit more detail
1. Purpose built design
• Every report has a purpose. It has to find its way
• Define the output first and then see what inputs / processes are needed
• Look outside in and then inside out
• Drive towards efficiency of movement — repeatability
2. Ensuring quality — Ensuring quality is preventive as well as corrective.
Preventive through standardization and access control —
• standardize a template —
• reduce opportunities for error
• Build in checks and balances into the templates — check totals / sign offs
• Build natural checks and balances — Audit process
• Again — outside in/ inside out — first review output and then go back tocore
Standardize formats — reduce unpredictability
• Standard fonts, standard colours, minimalistic presentation Checks and balances — no spelling mistakes. No obvious errors — no formula mistakes
• Communication — Proactive communication — quantitative as well as qualitative
• No sorries!! No being defensive!!
• MAKE THE CLIENT FEEL HE IS RECEIVING A GIFT — well packaged, full of value and driving satisfaction and timely — without follow-ups