Monthly Archives: May 2010

Eight Reasons You Should Never, Never, Never Buy Anything From HP

We used to be a 100% HP office. Now we’re down to 1 multi-function printer (that we’d ditch if it was used more than once in a blue moon) and an oversized 90 degree pivot monitor (only HP makes them) for process mapping on a vertical screen. Here’s why:

1. HP thinks a B2B customer is a checkbook

2. HP thinks a consumer customer is a credit card

3. Manufacturing quality is in the toilet, making good customer service a must.

4. They develop HORRIBLE software and drivers, making good customer service a must

5. They’ve fired their once excellent U.S. support staff and moved service offshore

6. Now when you call for service you get non-English speakers with bad attitudes (you can’t understand them; they can’t understand you)

7. When you try accessing live chat running IE7 they lock you out, saying you’re using an unauthorized browser (listening, Bill?) 

8. They’ve cut off all channels of communication from customers so CEO Mark Hurd can claim they have no customer complaints

Other than that, HP’s just wunnerful, wunnerful. Actually, HP  is the only company I know that can stick up an outhouse.

Can You Lump Customer-Centric, Outside-In Process Together with BPM?

The first question back from most will be: “How do you define BPM?” True to my proclivity for defining terms including “BPM” by their real world use, rather than aspirational musings by thought leaders, I define BPM as:“The totality of formal, structured business process design/management methods developed for use by trained process professionals.”

If that’s how we define “BPM,” does O-I process fit under this umbrella? No, it does not. While O-I process approaches including Visual Workflow, the CEMM Method and Human Process fit the first part of the description, when we get to “developed for use by trained process professionals,” that’s inaccurate. None of the primary O-I approaches requires employee training except for initiative facilitators/leaders―and some of these folks find Visual Workflow, for example, so intuitive they can pick it up on the fly.

Outside-In practitioners don’t need belts to hold up their process pants.

Not needing heavy training in process techniques, process-speak, process-symbology and the like makes O-I process very accessible to a broad spectrum of employees, which is critical to O-I’s success. O-I process focuses on work directly or indirectly affecting the customer experience―which is another way of saying front/back office and service work, much of it performed by knowledge workers. Knowledge workers don’t “just do what they’re told.” Nor do they have the time and inclination to go off and attend process classes. Process approaches for the O/S (office/service) either heavily involve knowledge workers without prior process training or they don’t work. That’s why LSS, Six Sigma and Lean, when applied in the O/S, suffer from a much higher relapse rate than diet programs.

So no, Outside-In process stands apart from BPM, IMHO. It’s “process to the people,” instead of process for professionals.

Other opinions?

What Happens When New Thinking Threatens the Value of Your Marketing or Process Skill Sets?

When business conditions and contexts change in ways that require significant professional adaptation, most managers go in one of two directions, with a small minority taking a third path:

  1.  DISPUTE:  They acknowledge change but claim their training & skill sets are immutable. What worked before will work in the future (with enhancements). We’re already there” is a common line of defense.
  2. DENY:  They ignore change, believing their environment is immutable. “Process works by a fundamental set of rules and always will” is a catch phrase.
  3. ACCEPT:  In early stages of change, a minority comprehend that neither their skill sets nor their work environments are immutable, and they can’t be married to anything but success.

 Why is this question relevant? Fundamental economic changes, demographic changes, technology advancements and globalization together have radically changed our business environment―with buyers big winners and sellers both short- and long-term losers. Consequently, business is fast losing its ability to act independently of customers, and customers are more and more proactive in demanding business be done “their way.”


 Process, which creates perhaps 80% of customer experience, must respond. Not by being nice to customers. Not by trying to give them most of what they’re asking for. But more fundamentally by letting customers drive the “what,” “who,” and “how” of process design, just as they’re already starting to drive business strategies. Outside-In Process is the first significant process response to change. Others may come along. But regardless of where process people go, they need to go “somewhere else,” and soon.


The new emphasis on customer experience discounts the importance of  creativity, promotional communication (including promotional branding), customer analytics (including databases) and lots of other traditional marketing stuff. Hence, lots of marketrs will have to leave their comfort zones before their comfort zones leave them. Outside-In overall, which fuses customer-centric planning with process design, is one escape route. There may be others. But marketers too need to act fast to avoid being very dis-comforted.

Which path will you take? 

Will you dispute? Deny? Or adapt?

In Office/Service Process, Can You Focus on One Customer-Related Activity or Function at a Time?

 I’ll be uncharacteristically direct expressing my opinion.

Here’s an example of why you can’t. A new financial services client had invested lots of effort improving process one function at a time. But the whole place was running out of sync with high defect quotients they wanted us to fix…one function at a time. So we had to explain to them “one function at a time” was actually causing the problems. Here’s the gist of what we said.

O/S flows are highly interdependent. Change one and you readily create unintended consequences affecting downstream flows – plus often you can’t change what needs changing without going upstream. Manufacturing process does experience some of the same issues, but nowhere nearly as many as in the O/S.

They got that part, so we went to work. However, despite our pleadings to not “fix” anything until we’d redesigned the entire flow structure, after every meeting they insisted on going out and “taking care of” issues we’d just unearthed in cross-functional team meetings. When we’d finished and prepared our comprehensive recommendation, complete with comprehensive change management approach, the devil in me made me ask our sponsor, “How many of those ‘quick fixes’ you folks made right after meetings stuck?” She admitted, “Less than half.”

Tons of wasted time and effort, not to mention pointless burning of “change capital,” resulting from their irrepressible impatience.

Do you agree?

Can We Measure the Outcomes of Improving Customer-Facing Process?

Please, no comments like “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” That’s bunk. Always has been. Always will be. And to support my harsh stance on this ridiculous statement, I’ll cite none other than Albert Einstein, who kept a sign on his Princeton office wall saying:

“Not everything that matters can be measured. But not everything that can be measured matters.”

In many cases, trying to measure growth in share of customer stemming from improved customer experience triggered by introduction of Outside-In process quickly becomes a fool’s errand. We can get halfway there by measuring improvement in customer experience (although doing so requires a very high level of research expertise, beyond simple NPS scores). But even these measures are subject to influence from contextual changes. And freeing changes in share of wallet from contextual changes defies research. Hell, we can rarely measure the thickness of the wallet, so how do we calculate the share?

So what are the alternatives to direct measurement? Or does anyone want to argue with Einstein? :-)

Based on our experience, the most effective way in most situations is establishing intuitive “cause & effect” relationships where certain actions well-performed will enhance customer experience in ways that should broaden relationships – or directly trigger additional business from customers, as should be the case for new products/services. While research can’t statistically measure the effects in most cases, they can validate the connections using Kano studies (not VOC, C-Sat or especially not NPS).

Not precise enough for you? Then you don’t belong measuring anything to do with people, customers included.

So what should O-I implementers do instead?