Posted by Kirsten Gibbs Last updated 17th August 2021 reading time
It’s easy to get very excited about increasing efficiency through digitalisation, automation and AI. But in the excitement we can forget that by ‘increasing efficiency’ what we are really trying to do is reduce ‘waste’, or to put it better, ‘wasted effort’, but what is wasted effort?
Well, In LEAN, ‘wasted effort’ falls under 3 categories:
‘Mura’ or wasted effort due to variation
‘Muri’ or wasted effort due to overburdening or stressing the people, equipment or system.
‘Muda’ also known as the “seven forms of wasted effort”
But what is it exactly, that makes effort wasted?
Quite simply that the customer is not willing to pay for it.
This seems blindingly obvious. Less obvious is the necessary implication – that if a customer is willing to pay for effort, it is by definition not wasted.
So if a client is happy to pay extra to be treated differently, this is not Mura. If a customer is willing to pay to have their papers picked up in person rather than via a portal, this is not Muda. (Muri, on the other hand, seems like the kind of wasted effort we should always try to eliminate and interestingly, is the least talked about).
Problems come when you have different customers paying the same fees, while receiving different services, or paying different fees but getting exactly the same service.
Or when you don’t know which of these is actually the case from customer to customer, because you haven’t designed it to happen either way.
To maximise profitability, you want to Share and Keep your Promise in the most efficient way possible.
The way to achieve that is to align service delivery as closely as possible to the desired customer experience – so that in effect, the delivery IS the customer experience. What you do is what they get.
An analogy might help here.
There’s a metalworking technique called ‘repoussé’ (from the French for ‘pushed out’). A malleable metal is ornamented or shaped by hammering from the reverse side to create a design in low relief. Think the mask of Agamemnon.
Repoussé is the ultimate LEAN process.
What appears on the front of the object is a direct and immediate result of what is done on the back. There is nothing extraneous, no intermediate steps, nothing behind the scenes. Every action contributes directly to the result. And every action is completely driven by what the result must look like from the front.
In other words, the perfect marriage of customer experience and operational efficiency.
There’s even more to this though. Imagine how motivating it would be to know that every action you take contributes directly to a customer’s experience? Nothing superfluous, nothing bureaucratic, nothing but a relationship being created or maintained between you and the person you are serving.
That perfect marriage of customer experience and operational efficiency turns out to be the perfect marriage of employee engagement and operational efficiency too.
Now imagine that your business processes are that thin sheet of gold between you and your client. Your aim is to shape them into the customer experience your clients wish for as directly as possible, with no unnecessary effort from your team.
The Promise System gives you a rough outline to start from. Your Promise of Value is your hammer.
From now on, as you build your Promise System, you’re going to tap out your processes into the perfect shapes for your tribe of clients, shapes that are unique to you. These shapes won’t match every customer perfectly, but they will be very close, and being thin gold, they will be customisable with simple finger pressure from the person delivering at the time.
Along the way, you’ll drive out Muda, Mura where it matters, without creating Muri. You’ll have built a business that’s LEAN and responsive from the inside out.
But first you have to finesse the tip of your hammer – something you’ll have to do more than once over the life of your Promise System as your clients and the environment around your business evolves.
The way we do that is through Package Promise.
That’s for next time.
Thanks for reading. Let me know if you’re enjoying these (or not).