We believe it’s always better to improve a process than simply follow it. But, many times, we see one of two things: First, organizations try to automate a process before optimizing it. Unfortunately, automating a mess simply makes it messier, faster. The second scenario, which is harder to spot, is when the process itself may be optimally designed, but it is unnatural for the organization to follow the process. There are too many obstacles that set them up for failure.
Over the years, as we worked with leaders to get a sense of their organizational capabilities, we really struggled to find this blind spot. We focused on the usual suspects—people, process, and technology—as we assessed the state of their business and their overall capabilities. But we found that these three elements weren’t enough to give us a sense of who they were and what they were capable of achieving as an organization.
Two years of research later
After much research and trial and error, we identified three additional areas critical to creating a holistic picture of an organization’s capabilities: measures, culture, and leadership. We spent two years working on a short, simple employee survey that asks team members for their input on strategy. The survey is just 14 questions, and it takes employees less than three minutes to fill out, even if English is their second language. Once we’ve crunched the data, we have a complete picture of an organization through its employees’ eyes. And, usually, the results are quite eye-opening for the executives.
Introducing your Service DNA
We extrapolate these six dimensions—people, process, technology, measures, culture, and leadership—into something we call your ‘Service DNA’. We then map the maturity of your organization, based on that snapshot of time, against all the other organizations with whom we’ve engaged. We view employees’ input through different lenses, each providing us data and a critical perspective about what works and what doesn’t.
More importantly, and most uniquely, it allows us to show organizations what is possible; then we can recommend specific interventions in logical sequence that maximize the likelihood of success. How? We compare their Service DNA against other organizations we’ve helped, then use algorithms to match the organization with companies that share similar characteristics and issues. We see what worked for the other companies and adapt it to match the struggling organization’s challenges and needs. We continuously refine our heuristics and algorithms as we do more engagements, making the Service DNA and resulting data-driven recommendations even better with each use.
One enterprise had come up with 12 ‘big rocks’ they wanted to tackle the following year. After seeing the results of their data-driven recommendations, they pared that down to the two critical ones that were most likely to succeed, with minimal distractions. Both of them were not on their original list. They crushed them both, saving time and energy.
Seeing around corners
This assessment is not just an audit, but a critical step in moving your organization forward: Can you do X before Y? Should you? You want intelligent swarming, but if your culture is one of command and control, that won’t work. And if you set a goal for your teams to employ intelligent swarming before creating a culture and process of knowledge-sharing, employees will continue to fall short, no matter the training, technology, or incentives you deploy to resolve the issue.
Understanding the state of your current business is critical in setting long-term goals, because often you’ll find underlying institutional and organizational precepts that must be addressed before teams can move forward on the course you’ve set for them. And the only way to build this holistic view is to talk to your employees and thoughtfully consider their input.
Without knowing your Service DNA, you won’t fully understand where you are or what you can do. This data-driven assessment enables you to connect your people’s perceptions and experiences to your issues and long-term goals, providing a clear roadmap of how to actually accomplish it, with the greatest likelihood of success.
Want to learn more about your Service DNA? Check it out here.