Interesting elsewhere – 19 May 2010

Things which caught my eye elsewhere on the web

  • The big society – meeting at Downing Street For me, as an old Whitehall hand (my day job before talk about local) this was the first time the coalition thing has really sunk in. It was remarkable to see two leaders of different political parties sit opposite each other at the cabinet table and govern together. The big society is perhaps easier common ground, the deputy prime minister said that the liberals and the conservatives had been talking about the same thing but with different labels. For the DPM a big society that embraced community grass roots action and self empowerment was core liberalism. The Prime Minister said that he wanted a major part of his legacy to be a government that ‘laid the foundations for the big society’.
  • Phlebotomy Phiasco – a customer-oriented process? I discovered I was in what turned out to be a pre-queue since the department door was locked shut. A roll of numbered paper tickets lay on a counter which experienced users knew to take. In the best traditions of user-administered service process, first time users were instructed in the system by the veterans. About 30 people were there already – 50 by opening time at 7.30. Why were so many people there so early in the morning? Well I can only guess that they knew that turn up any later and you can say goodbye to most of your day.
  • John Seddon: Why Lean is a Wicked Disease Why did Ohno teach his managers by getting them to study the system? Because only careful study of the work reveals what the true problems are — and mostly they are not the ones you thought they were.In fact, this revelation is frequently followed by an even more challenging one: the real issue is actually the way you were thinking about your problems.

    And so it is with service organisations. Managers assume that standardising work cuts costs, yet when they study their services they find that standard processes prevent the system from absorbing variety — put simply, it makes it hard for customers to get what they want, and the organisation consumes more resources as a consequence.

  • Schneier on Security: Worst-Case Thinking There’s a certain blindness that comes from worst-case thinking. An extension of the precautionary principle, it involves imagining the worst possible outcome and then acting as if it were a certainty. It substitutes imagination for thinking, speculation for risk analysis, and fear for reason. It fosters powerlessness and vulnerability and magnifies social paralysis. And it makes us more vulnerable to the effects of terrorism.

    Worst-case thinking means generally bad decision making for several reasons. First, it’s only half of the cost-benefit equation. Every decision has costs and benefits, risks and rewards. By speculating about what can possibly go wrong, and then acting as if that is likely to happen, worst-case thinking focuses only on the extreme but improbable risks and does a poor job at assessing outcomes.

  • Focussing on the voice of the customer | acidlabs Of course, in any project you need to balance the business requirements against what’s actually deliverable to the customer or user. But I’d argue that at no point in the project should business requirements outweigh or force a compromise in the experience you deliver to the customer.  You should never expose your problems, limitations or issues with the business to the user or customer. If you do, you’ve failed in delivering the best experience.Of course, this doesn’t mean that those issues don’t exist and that you don’t consider them very carefully. But you don’t expose them to customers. You use whatever smoke and mirrors you can. You do clever things under the hood. Or you even change the business to remove the problem so it’s no longer a problem at all.
  • How public services can save the world « Disciplined Innovation And in social innovation, the public sector has certainly helped promising ideas get to scale. From universal education to social security, great social innovations have started life in civil society and grown to scale with the public sector’s help. As it has been in these areas, so we at the Innovation Unit believe it will be for green social innovations.