Leaders and managers on a rapid service design sprint helps them gain a new perspective that helps them to lead change
It can just take a week for a group of managers to have their deeply held view of their service to be transformed, and for them to create a new perspective and collaborative management style . The initial call was to help them look at their complex service, as they have critical problems that need addressing now. The response to that is fine, I need a week of your and your managers time. This is what we did;
Day 1 A couple of hours of understanding the difference between different types of problems, and complexity. And how we as managers need to adapt to mange those differently. Then we went into the work, and sat next to the first group of front line staff. Learning what they do, what gets in their way, and the ability the front line staff have to do their real job. Sitting with staff is a way to help managers to see their operations from a perspective that is outside-in
Day 2 We review the learning from day 1. Learn a little more about what are the characteristics of good workflows. Then they go out to the main service delivery area and sit with the front line. This only takes an hour, but on their return to the room, they are buzzing. It takes almost two hours to unpack their learning!
Day 3 We go deeper into systems thinking concepts, and understand some key aspects of Service Design. We learn about the service user (customer) and what matters to them, and the journey. We also examine the aspects that lie behind the design of the workflows. And what management thinking are driving the behaviours of staff.
Day 4 We listen to real feedback from a service user - and everyone is quiet. The managers realise that they have stopped listening to their service users a long time ago. The rest of the day is spent creating an end to end flow, and identifying points where they need to intervene.
Day 5 is summarising the improvement projects and systemic changes that are needed. Project sheet are created and owned, put on the walls, and off we go.
The group of disparate managers have now formed into a single purpose driven team. They understand each other, and they see how in the past they have failed to even simply work together with one purpose. This is one of the problems of a traditional stakeholder analysis view. Not only is the outcome, practical steps towards improvement, the greatest change is in their mindset, systemic understanding, analysis of complexity, and new management behaviours that emerge by friday afternoon.
An event for Service Designers, and Transformation consultants. This is about learning about the power of combining systems thinking and service design. It will focus on dealing with complexity, and the particular issues that we all face when making change and transformation successful.
- Deal effectively with complexity, and the difficulties with people designed services. - Understand how to engage managers so that they lead. - Helping managers develop new methods, and behaviours. - Engage with those in the work - to develop real and sustained change.
The event will be less about theory, and primarily focus on learning by using real case studies from a range of situations. We will use your problems and examples to make a real effective workshop that is right for you.
Design thinking and service design is a way of thinking about organisations using design methodologies. Today, design thinking is recognised as being far more than designing products and services, it is a way of understanding and managing businesses. It is about solving real business problems. It is about different cultures and exciting ways of working and managing within an organisation. Systems thinking is now recognised as being a necessary part of making design thinking work in this way.
Service design and systems thinking transforms a public sector service
Introduction Enforcement services are recognised as those public sector services that are designed around stopping people from doing something; littering, noise, anti social behaviour are good examples. The services are always backed by legislation that defines the limits of what is acceptable, and those in the service often see themselves as having to ‘police’ or defend something.
Typically, for most services this is a warning, then a fine. Interestingly it is often the case that staff wear uniforms of some type.
Below is an example from a Food Safety Team from England, using a service design, Lean and systems thinking approach to challenge their current way of working.
When looking at food safety if you ask them what their job is, it is to;
enforce food standards on restaurant owners.
They have the ability to fine, or even to take the owner to court, if they think it is appropriate. For the restaurant owner, the experience is never one that they enjoy - the officer suddenly turns up at my door, telling me that I am here to inspect you.
What Used to Happen
A stern officer arrives suddenly in my restaurant.
“Please give me a place I can change my clothes”
I wait, and worry about all the things I have not got right in my kitchen.
The officer comes into my kitchen all dressed in white, with a clip-board. They ignore me, and look into every corner of my kitchen.
They ask me for my staff training records, and I have two new staff who have not done the training.
After 30 minutes, they take me into my office, and they tell me what I am doing wrong.
The inspector did not see what I was dong right, that I have been very busy this week, and that I am trying my best. I hate them, I try and hide things from them.
When the officer arrives, they put on a white outfit, and walk around the kitchen inspecting what they want to see. The restaurant owner just has to watch. And the officer usually has a list of items they expect to see; clean surfaces, training records & certificates, proof of inspections, and so on.
At the end of the visit the officer will go back to their office, and type up a reference document that lists all the items that failed the inspection. Each problem will include sections from the legislation, and a warning of when they should be completed. The tone of the letter is very standard and official - and the wording must be written assuming that the letter might be shown in court.
What They do Now The same group of officers, after they have transformed their approach, did something very different. Firstly, they realised from a systemic perspective, that their purpose was to:
help restaurants create safe food - not to fulfil a pre-determined list of criteria.
They now first phone me, and ask when it would be a good time to visit.
They arrive, they get changed, and we have a conversation about what issues I am facing. I tell them about the two new staff, and how busy I have been.
They go to the kitchen and simply watch what is going on.
Then, we have a further conversation and they show my staff a few things that they ask about.
The inspectors write down a few points that I should take care of, and ask me if I need any help with them.
Back in the office, there is the biggest change:
Paperwork has reduced by 80%. We only record what we need we need to, and we don’t type formal letters to the restaurants.
We are not interested in the old measures, so we don’t need to record each problem on the measures system.
The number of activities we used to do in an inspection flow was 134, now it is11.
The purpose has changed from checking, to helping people when they need help. Our motivation has gone right up - I enjoy my work.
If a restaurant manager has a problem, they will now call up the inspector and ask them for advice.
"We can now do two visits in one day, not just one.
Have a look at these videos to experience what it was like
As an enforcement officer, it is now up to me to decide what I do and how I do it, for each situation I find myself in. It is great to be able to put into practice my knowledge, and help people. In the office we have regular sessions, where we discuss what were doing, and what techniques we have learned. If any of us ever need help, all of us are there at the end of the phone - but the most helpful person is my manager.
Enforce principles of working - Command & Control principles:
We follow instructions
We ignore the individual issues with the person
This is just a job, managers dont like me.
Help me principles of working - Person centred principles:
We understand the customer, and their problems
We adapt and do the right thing for them
I enjoy my job, it helps people, they like me.
Summary of performance measures
• Service improved from requiring special measures to excellent • Service ethos changed from enforcement to helping • Waste reduced by 75% • Cost saving 24% overall • Staff reduced by 2 • Nationally recognised transformation • Customer feedback changed from suspicion to welcoming
The Method - Systems thinking and Service Design The approach that was used was to take a team of inspectors and the manager through a series of stages of learning and prototyping - they started by understanding what mattered to the restaurant manager. They also mapped out all the activities that they took to complete a visit, it was 134 steps! They then set about experimenting with a new purpose - to help the managers create safe food. The team realised they had little idea how to actually do that, so they worked with one restaurant, and then another, until they had learned a new set of techniques and approaches that became their new way of working. They discarded those activities that they deemed not necessary. The Implications Think of those public services that are 'enforcement' - that fine, chase, force people to do certain things. Imagine what would be the implications to the community if those services, instead of we enforce became we help?????? The difference was so great, that an article was published by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. You can read it here.
Design thinking, Service design and Systems thinking
If you want to know more about the detail of the design and systems thinking methodology used, it is described in this section...
The approach that this piece of work took combined Design Thinking principles with Service Design and System Thinking. Each 'thinking' is woven into the overall method, so that in one morning, the conversations will always start with what matters to the end user, and incorporate an end to end perspective. We challenged everything.
The Plan was agreed with the client - but they already had experience of this type of approach, and they know that they could not rely on a fixed outcome - it had to be part of the Understand. But what might be interesting to the reader is that this is really about Transformative change. In this type of change, which is a wicked problem; part of the discovery is to find out where we were going to go. I say we, because this involved transforming peoples thinking as well as the service. The team - Transforming thinking is something that happens when people decide to explore and accept other possibilities. So, the team that went through this had to be officers from the organisation, plus a manager. They had to undergo the journey, and the only way to do that was for them to actually do it themselves. My role as the consultant was as a facilitator, and as a coach. I would give them the right tools at the right time, and they would develop the outcomes. So, no nice clean diagrams form me, they were all generated by the team. The managers - two of the managers were involved for about 1-2 days a week. They had to start by being part of the team, and they had to learn. Slowly over time they started to learn new ways of interacting with the team and allowing officers to come up with the solutions. The manager had to learn how to work with an empowered and self managing team. Whats the role of the manager when the team are self managing?
Understand is the analysis of the current system, its performance and the impact on the customer. The customer being the restaurant owner.
Systems thinking - The start of the process has to be to ask why are we here - our purpose? Design thinking - And then we have to understand HOW we achieve this purpose from an outside in perspective. Then we can truly get the customer experience, fully in our mind. In this case we were not able to do this until the next stage, this is because this work is so complex and deep, that it was only by trying to design a prototype did we truly understand what mattered to the owners of restaurants. The customer journey, in this example, translates into the what matters to the owner. So journey maps were not appropriate. Design thinking - The team spend a few days developing a workflow map, that contained each activity for a typical inspection. This map is only useful if it tells us something. So, we identified the value and waste.
Systems thinking - 8 value steps, and 160 waste steps!!! The team were stunned. I kept this information until we moved to prototyping. Systems thinking - we had to ask ourselves how effective the current system was? The answer was, we didn't know. But we do know that owners do not like to see us, and they try and hide bad practice from us.
Prototype & learning
With a non-transactional workflow, it is not easy to see a new way forward. So, I had to do some work to get the creative juices flowing. These are officers who have had 'enforcement' drummed into them, for years. So...
Design thinking - On day one, the team had to learn to learn; about chefs, their behaviours, and attitudes. So, they had to go to a restaurant kitchen, stand int he corner, and learn. On their return one group said that it was really interesting... A good start. We worked on that. The next day they went out to learn some more. They all went to a burger van, and talked to the owner - asking open questions. Background - This owner had a poor safety record; he had been asked to replace the floor and put in hot water. But had never done this. Learning - they learned that this man worked 7 days a week, sometimes making no money. Exhausted at the end of the day. He cared that his customers remained safe. The team were a little confused as to why we were spending time doing this..? We asked him if we could come tomorrow? Learning - we saw that he was using his spatula for both cooked meats and fresh meat. Not good - but we did not say anything to him. - we were only allowed to learn, not do anything. Design thinking - The teams task was now to learn, but also to experiment with anything that they thought was useful to help create safe food. What we did - the next day, on the way to see him, we bought a spatula. When we arrived, he said hello, and gave him the spatula. Guess what he did - after a pause his eyes moistened. No-one had ever done anything like that before. Especially not a food safety inspector! He transformed into a welcoming, human being. He chatted, opened up, and was very friendly. Learning - we have learned the secret that has been eluding us. We have now understood how to engage with people. This was the first breakthrough. Design thinking - we now wanted to help him understand how poor he was at food preparation. But the team were not allowed to tell him in ther old way, something else had to happen. What we did - the team designed a graph with all the burger van type business on, and the axis showed each of the businesses from good to poor. We coloured in the poor section in red. We turned up to visit him, was as we approached, he came out, and led us to his van. He offered us all a drink. Over a conversation, we asked him; "how well do you make safe food?" the answer was; oh, I a not great but not as bad as most people." We then asked him to point to where he thought he was on the graph. Then we showed him where his business really was. And we said nothing. His eyes started to stare again. We continued a conversation and left. What we did - after a few days, we returned to learn. Again, he came out and led us to his van, he wanted to show us something. He had fitted a new floor, and he had installed hot water!! iThe time, it was the teams turn to have watery eyes. He was so proud! He had done something the inspectors had asked him to do time and time again, over several years. Learning - the second secret the team learned, was that when you listen, and engage with someone, and treat them ike a human, they respond cooperatively.
Wen the team had got over their 'enforcement' mindset and learned the fundamental principles of a new way of working, they proceeded to develop a new approach using these principles: - understand the owner as a person and the situation they are in. - find ways of helping the owner to see things about their food preparation. - discuss with them ways forward. - learn and apply, learn and apply, learn and apply...
After a few weeks, they had learned a new approach that was working.
The new workflow - I asked the team to create a new workflow, with only the 8 value steps in - no waste.And they got quite close. Letters were ditched, no reports, and no unnecessary recording on IT systems. The result was two visits a day were normal, rather than one.
Systems thinking - the mindset was the key to everything in this work. As they learned, they unlearned. One of the greatest frameworks that created the old 'enforce' mindset, was the legislation. They would use the wording of the legislation to act as their bedrock, and as an the reason to justify their actions and behaviour. I had to show them, by working with the owners, that the legislation had to be used:
as a guide to safe food preparation, not as a prescriptive set of words. That was tough to do, but it worked. They finally had the courage to stand on their own two feet as people, who could help people create safe food.
Preparation - Everything about what they did before had to be changed. So procedures, IT systems, measures and tools had to be created. Showing others - The task of teaching others, then began, and the team realised that they could not just tell their fellow inspectiors what they had to do, they had to show them and work with them. It took time, lots of time. But it worked. Two members of staff did not like the new way of working, so they decided to leave.
Understanding complexity and then applying that to dealing with customers is critical to true service and systems design
Interesting to read this article in the guardian that the issues with the NHS are not just about ‘fixing people’ when they are unwell. But that loneliness has a large impact on people well-being, demonstrated in the figures for 50% less life expectancy to those that are lonely.
Analysis When I did some work in the NHS, and we looked at the demand into hospitals and also helping people in the community - going to the GP, or after they have left the hospital. Something about what we were learning about the demand seemed to need further analysis. It is easy to treat different types of demand as common categories - broken leg, diabetes, etc. But when we looked at the time taken to help people get back to a normal life, there was great variation in the resources and time used with the same category.
Complexity We discovered that certain people absorbed far more resources, visit their GP, or were admitted to hospital far more than others. These people often had a level of complexity to their situation that was not obviously identified when looking at their records. When we analysed a cohort of patients it was obvious to attribute age to the cause of increasing complexity. But looking at each person in detail we discovered the causes were various. And what was the highest cause of complexity? Loneliness.
It surprised everyone around us, that this was the result of the analysis. And how well had this health trust geared itself up to respond to this problem? Well, apart from having weekly public social gatherings, the problem was not on anyones radar as being important.
What we did What we did was to tackle the loneliness head on, taking a cohort of people that were in the health system. The result was that their interaction with the health system went down, in some cases so dramatically, that they stopped seeing anyone in the NHS.
Its how we view our demand Prior to this analysis, the NHS had been looking at demand using categories that they had created and defined each person. However, this is a good example of looking at a complex system, and applying system thinking principles and techniques to its analysis and design. Then the demand is understood outside-in, how people interact with the system, and what matters to them. This simple approach allows an organisation to fundamentally alter their approach to how they deal with people, so that their resourcrs are cut by 30%, and the outcomes are improved. Predefined categories tend to limit our ability to really understand our organisation and the workflow clearly.
Public sector data protection should allow us to share data - not hinder us
Data sharing, often a major stumbling block to joined-up working in the public sector. How to use a systemic approach to thinking about the problem and delivering a different and far easier solution.
Lets start with a real case study and define the problem that this organisation had.
The Problem I came across a new data sharing issue in a new Hub we were redesigning recently. In this situation local government Council staff were newly sitting next to and working with the Police. The question was:
How do we now share information between us?
This was a project started to develop the workflows, policies and practice in the Hub. The Police, and Council front line staff were in a multi-disciplinary change team, and the managers were connected to that team.
What the Police Did If anyone works with the Police you will find that they have a quite different way of making decisions than any other type of organisation. In the situation with the Hub, they made a local decision to share data in the way that supervisors on the ground thought was reasonable. However, when they went and asked their Data Controller, and the Controller replied they could not share any of the data. As simple as that! The Police then spent the rest of the three months in this position - frustrated, but unable to proceed.
The Standard Solution As is usual, the purpose has to be defined or understood. It will be defined by managers, and may be defined something like;
we need a set of rules on how to legally share data between us, that protects people and allows us to work together efficiently.
This is the usual approach in most organisations to solve a problem like this. They will ask a consultant with analytical knowledge to look at this as a project and study the data. They also need to be fully aware of the legislation, so they ask the Data Controller and get a copy of the Data Protection Act, and read it in detail.
This consultant then takes the data types from a data analyst, and attempts to categorise the data into the categories that make sense, and that show different levels of risk. They would look at the job roles of all the people involved and attempt to make a judgement as to the data they are required to view and why. And engage with the Data Controller and put all the collected findings on the table.
The outcome will be a report, that will be approved, and then circulated down through the hierarchy - as each manager makes sure that their particular concern or point is contained in the final report. In some cases this step in the process can take many months and the problem is seen as:
the needs of different stakeholders, which must be taken into account.
Staff groups are put on a schedule to listen to their managers tell them what the new rules are.
The Systemic Approach Understand Again, the first step that has to happen is that the problem has to be understood. This is done by going to where the work is. The change team listen to demands coming into the Hub, by actually listening to the conversations. They have to understand the whole problem and what matters to the person making the demand.
The purpose they define for the sharing of information remains undefined.
Redesign. The next step, after listening to the demand, is to undertake the work - by just doing the work that matters to fix the problem - together with the person.
The Data So what of the data sharing? Well, the example above is looked at by the team, and the key information that was needed to provide the knowledge required to solve the problem is written down.
The above process is repeated several times, until the team understand enough about the demands and the knowledge. They might do 20 or more demands.
Then the team sit together and analyse what knowledge is needed, and where it is usually held. Interestingly it is quite often held in peoples memories rather than simply in a computer.
The purpose they define for the sharing of information now emerges from the evidence.
The Outcome This analysis is then used to define the agreement on the sharing of knowledge. If a manager does not like this, or wants to add other rules, then they have to work with the team to demonstrate that the evidence proves that this change should be made.
The word data is not included in any document or discussion. The purpose of this exercise is the sharing of knowledge
From a systems thinking perspective, what is important in this problem is not about data, but pertinent information regarding a council officer about to visit the property of someone. As soon as you make it data you have entered the world of concepts and ideas. Systems thinking has to be firmly rooted in the reality of what the the system is really about.
The solution was surprisingly easy, focus on the information - not the data. When there is a new demand, and the council officer wants to know about the what we know about the person making the demand, then they ask a police officer in-front of a computer if there are any issues I need to be aware of when I visit Mr. Smith. The officer could respond with;
maybe you should go with a colleague,
the mother has difficulties talking to a official,
there may be someone staying there illegally,
talk to Jason, he knows a bit about this family,
a police officer will go with you as it might be tricky,
dont go - lets have a conversation...
After the demands were understood, It took about two weeks to define, and make into a workshop for staff.
The Difference Between Systems Thinking and our Usual Approach? Point 1 - there is are no stakeholder needs, as the person and the demand defines the need. Point 2 - there is no inflexible set of rules that applies to certain categories of demands. Point 3 - the managers do not initially define the outcome, the evidence does. Then the managers agree the analysis the team undertook.
What is needed is not the data, its the knowledge I need before the visit and during the process. This real need by-passes all data arguments, as the real basis of data sharing is the sharing of knowledge. The sharing of data can be a side issue to the main principle, that is often used when sharing is between people far away from each other and who are unable to collaborate. If you can collaborate with your colleague in the other service, then the sharing becomes one of knowledge - and a different and much easier problem to fix.
In addition, this approach supports the front line staff and is flexible to every situation. So no detailed procedures or rules are necessary - just the creation of a set of principles to work to in a framework that front-line staff can be coached to use.
This is an real example of using systems thinking to the problem of data sharing. The problem is redefined from data to knowledge - which is should have always been in the first place, if the legislation had been looked at from a systemic perspective then maybe the problem so many public sector organisations are having would be made alot easier.
The data protection act in the UK is actually written to help data sharing and to prevent private organisations from marketing our data. But we tend to see it only as the method of restricting communication. Certainly those who wrote it made a big error in the way that it puts across the central concept of what it is about. But, it really does focus on DATA, and in public sector operations we are far more interested in information.
So, the Scottish Police centralisation of calls is being put on hold. What is the problem? The problem is that we as decision-makers love to use the same clever principles to make decisions, that on reflection, seem to be plausible.
The problem is that the police service relies heavily on calls into the system. These calls arrive at all times of the day, with varied frequency over the day. At small sites the cost of managing these call handlers, arranging their shifts, and preparing for holidays and sickness is a challenge. So, the solution is to get them all from the smaller sites, put them in a big building, and connect them with technology, back to their original locations. Then, maybe we can recruit cheaper grade staff to answer the calls, based on best practice CRM systems. If we can call India when we talk to a bank, surely its a no-brainer?
It all makes sense to a decision-maker, who is being pushed to make savings, the like that have never been experienced by that leader in the lifetime of the service. The logic and the maths make perfect sense.
The reality is this. The demand that comes in is often complex and fails to follow a pre-determined pattern to resolve. That seemingly simple call about a Facebook spat can turn nasty if not dealt with according to the unique circumstances of what matters to that particular caller. The history of conflict within the facebook issue, shows that those invovled have been warring for some time.
Then, if we do pass on the call to a division, it gets categorised, prioritised, and then sits in a queue until someone in a locality picks it up and reads it. They read what was written by the call handler, not what was actually said, not understanding the intonation in the voice, not hearing the confused shy vulnerable message struggling to be heard over and above the categorisation they are being forced to be placed in.
The call-handler is trained to push away calls deemed not for the police. The unintended consequence is often an escalatin of the incident, until it becomes necessary to respond to with greater attention.
The locality the call eventually gets to, need to call the caller back, to obtain more information that was not detailed on the record. The phone number is tried several times, before contact is remade. The officer who can really help understand and help the caller, finally talks to the person with the problem, and then finally starts the value work of sorting out the problem. Hopefuly it is not too late by then, but it has caused a load of waste activity to ripple through the organisation.
One day someone will come up with the bright idea of in the first instance, getting the caller to talk directly to the person who can help them resolve the problem, and that same manager who set up the big building full of call handlers will find that the cost of doing this is considerably less than the old way. And, as a by product, the service is markedly improved.
It is what happens to all such contact centres if they are analysed in the right way, but it takes so many of us to make the expensive mistake before we learn that lesson. By that time, a new manager has taken the reigns, and they have a great idea to solve the cost of different localities taking their own calls... The wheel goes round again.
Take a systems thinking approach to this problem, and the right solution will be clear.
So, you have decided to log demand into the police. Make sure you look at all the demands coming in, they come in on the phone, by email, and into the enquiry counters. And what about when officers are on the beat, and from the phone at enquiry counters, don't forget those...
Then a table is made up of demand. And if youre thinking a little further, you decide to focus using an outside-in perspective, to see what REAL demands are coming in. So split the demand into value and failure demands. Take a systems thinking view of demand.
The demand coming into the police are far more tricky to analyse than transactional based system. Why? well, because these demands are:
1. They are varied. Some demand is a simple questions, some are for requests for police service, and others are just plain calls for help. If you try and combine them together, on a spreadsheet, then you may be working with data that is just too summarised to make any real decisions on. A demand for a shotgun licence, to a call to attend a historic burglary, to a call for a domestic issue, to a call asking about help on a civil matter. Some of those demands will take a great deal of time to answer, and what matters to the caller and the subsequent response is vastly different.
2. In a simpler system, like a bank, a demand is a call for service, and the service delivery follows that demand. With the police a demand may be followed up by subsequent demands, that are of value. They represent communciation that is part of the flow of work. Maybe in these cases it is better to view these demands as in process demands.
If you treat the demands above as the same for computational and analysis purposes, you will aggregate apples and pairs as being the same fruit. And how useful will the information be? Maybe a better way is to look at the police system from an outside in perspective, and group demands into:
a. Transactional demands - that starts as a demand from the public, and the police provide a service or answer, and then it is complete. These transactional demands can then be further categorised.
b. Help me demands - where a member of the public needs help and support. These cases are sometimes complex, sometimes not directly do with the police, and their resolution may be long term.
c. Different types of demands follow different flows of work. If they do, then these demands are different and be wary of aggregating them into statistics.
So, whats the best thing to do with demands into the police? Be very wary of categorising them to any standard apart from that from the outside in perspective, and use what matters as a guide. Then you will create groups of demands that will truly be useful to operations to analyse how to deal with them.
Lean, or systems thinking gives a view of your organisation that is often difficult to view, in todays pressured and prioritised environment. Using it will help you to see why certain issues remain resistant to change, regardless of how many consultants, or how much money is thrown at it.
A link to Joan Donnelly article on Demand, from Policing Insight here