I cannot think of any customer I work with that is not in some way improving. However I worry that they do not see this (or it is not seen by their peers and superiors) as they do not have a formal Continual Service Improvement programme. It is in our nature to improve. We cannot help it. We sometime do it because it is right. We sometimes do it because we’ve been forced to, and we even occasionally do it without realising!
I think we need to stop worrying about improving and just get on with our lives. If we stop and look back, we’ll find that getting out of the way of ourselves will prove to be the most successful approach. Don’t get me wrong. I fully support more structured initiatives, but I don’t like to see innovation withheld or ignored because it does not fit into “the plan”.
For me, CSI is just as much about an ethos and culture as it is about a process and procedure. I encourage everyone I meet to contribute and feel that improvements can be discussed and agreed in corridors, pubs, street corners and around the coffee machine as well as in formal meetings or structured documents.
Some of the greatest ideas and improvements I have seen have been proposed “in passing” as a scenario or situation that gave light to an idea. The key thing is that your staff need to know they have a voice that will be listened to. This doesn’t mean every improvement idea can be adopted, but it will be considered. My mantra for new starters was that every idea they had would be heard. I may reject it. I may say, “Not right now.” I may say, “Go, and do it” or I may even laugh at it, but I would always listen.
It seems to me that we are almost too process driven in IT. This is in some way down to the continued advent and acceptance of ITIL®. Of course, it is important to continually assess your processes to address if they are fit for purpose and fit for use, but surely, they are only one part of the jigsaw puzzle that makes up your service delivery.
“I once saw a 15% leap in customer satisfaction when we started answering the phone and giving our names.” This came from a new starter on his second day…asking why we didn’t do it!
The bottom line is that you do not need a seven step process to introduce improvements. You just need the right working environment and belief in the people around you.