Skip to main content


Improving service through systems

Whenever there is a risk that a customer might not be getting the best service possible – consider the system. Many times people look purely at the people who are working with the customer – are they doing the right things? Do they have a good attitude? These are normal questions to ask. It has been stated that the system accounts for 94% of the effects created – the people in the system therefore can only have a limited effect on what happens. Considering the system makes us ask other questions. How can the system allow us to deal with customers swiftly? How can the system allow errors to be made? How does the system please our customers? By considering both the system and the people operating the system you get a more complete picture of how to improve this area of performance. Of course, this isn't an excuse to back down when people are abusing the system/customers! Smartspeed Consulting Limited 'For When Results Matter'

Marginal efforts

When you state ‘marginal efforts’ people think about the lack of effort being put into that activity. What if the marginal efforts were applied after the other work had been done? This would be extra effort – making marginal efforts potentially a good thing. So, if at the end of the working day one last activity were undertaken – something small, what would happen at the end of the year? The additional efforts could have made a project come to life, a new skill be learnt, or new relationships formed with colleagues or clients. What additional small activities could you add in to your working day? Smartspeed Consulting Limited 'For When Results Matter'

Provoking a review

A lot of people review where their businesses (and personal lives) are heading around this time of year. New business plans are drawn up and new objectives are considered. Many of these plans aren't reviewed or updated as the year passes, and this is a real shame. Finding ways to provoke reviews within the business can help with more timely corrections in which way the business is heading. Do this on a regular basis and it gives a degree of control that many businesses don't have. The review of course needs to be meaningful, it needs to be able to get people to think, not just allow a session for perfunctory feedback that doesn't actually help the company in any real way. The questions that are used during the review could of course be standardised so that the process develops over time, that this exercise gets better as the experience grows. If the process is slightly uncomfortable because if forces people to be clear about what is happening then this too is a benefi

Turn off your e-mails?

Watching people at work can tell you all kinds of things. One of the activities that I see on a regular basis is people gazing at their e-mails. Even worse is when the e-mails interrupt meaningful work. You can see the frustration in people's faces when they realise that the e-mail isn't really that useful and then they have to go back to what they were doing before. Checking your e-mails less frequently could help to raise your personal productivity. What would happen if you didn't get to an e-mail straight away? Could you live with that result? Experiment to find the right frequency for you and for the business so that service levels are maintained and productivity optimised. Smartspeed Consulting Limited 'For When Results Matter'

Asking better questions

When faced with issues in the business it is sometimes easy to jump to conclusions based on what you believe. It might not be a fact-based idea that is helpful to the situation – it could be a distraction. When we state what we think the problem is we can often end up limiting our options. This can lead to a narrow view of the world and not help us to generate a really effective solution. If we discuss what we can see (or feel or hear) about the issue then that is about as close as we can get to in terms of facts. An example of this would be a flat tyre. Some people will say that you have a puncture (the narrow view) because that is what they expect. This could be the case, but there are other reasons why the tyre could be flat – the only thing we can see is that there is a lack of air in the tyre. There could be multiple reasons as to why this is the case. By keeping the initial thinking broad we can find out what is the real situation. If we can stay with broader thinking at the o

Agree the end point

I was watching two members of one of my client’s team arguing over where the end point of the handover was. This seemed to be a good point to raise; unfortunately the end date had been and gone by two months. How you agree the end point has more to do with than just how the business works – how do the people work within the business? As handovers usually have a people element to them it is important to ensure that the capability of the individuals is also present. When you define the end point of a project it is worth describing this as a scene – what will the people be doing (behaving) once you walk away? And where are they now – can they do these activities? This is the gap that needs to be closed. Smartspeed Consulting Limited 'For When Results Matter'

Take the bumps?

One of the challenges that we need to consider when developing strategies is: - can it take the bumps that we might see on the way? There are some very good ways to create and design strategies for businesses, but the acid test question is the one mentioned above. How do you use this approach? Very simple - work out what kinds of factors could adversely affect your business (but aren't on the current horizon) and then consider whether your strategy could withstand the bump that this would cause. Depending on the result, reflect against this 'scenario' and decide whether you want to take the risk. Otherwise alter the strategy or come up with a plan 'B' should the situation arise. Considering the weird and the wonderful when it comes to strategic design is a valuable approach. Smartspeed Consulting Limited 'For When Results Matter'