After the honeymoon

In the last issue of this newsletter I expressed the view that people experience a ‘honeymoon’ with the Excellence Model – in the first two years there is much positively-talked-about activity. People are energised as they score themselves and determine projects for action. After some time, however, doubts begin to set in. People, especially top managers, begin to ask ‘does it bake bread?’ to use Ackoff’s phrase. Some people argue that the Model needs to be worked with over the long-term to gain benefits. This raises the question ‘how long does it take to change?’ to which I shall return in the next edition of this newsletter.

But why hasn’t peoples’ experience with the Excellence Model led them to improve performance, and in the short term? In my view it is because their use of the Model led them to the ‘wrong’ answers. I have seen many cases where the scoring versus the Model has led managers to conclusions that were not based on knowledge about the ‘what and why’ of performance. Hence their subsequent projects did not ‘bake bread’.

The better place to start is to learn about the ‘what and why’ of current performance as a system – as described in ‘The Vanguard Guide to Business Excellence’. Knowledge about performance is the pre-requisite for improving performance. The Vanguard Guide gives you the means to become knowledgeable.


Government is bad for your health

I am alarmed at the UK Government’s strategy for improving cancer care. The Government’s ‘bible’ for cancer care is most unlikely to improve cancer treatment. It is more likely to hinder improvement and further damage Health Service morale.

While the notion of standards is plausible, it is to focus on activities rather than purpose. The requirements to, for example, write policies, survey patient opinion, write treatment plans and have qualifications will create a bureaucracy – much needed by the inspector – but it will to little to address the questions ‘what works’ and ‘how can the work be improved?’

As the advent of the inspection looms, staff will focus on the need to meet inspected requirements; their ingenuity will be focused on the wrong things.

We have seen what the Government’s promulgation of specification and inspection (as ISO 9000) has done in the private sector – it has wrought economic damage. To promote the same in our health service is a tragedy for us all. It will add to cost rather than improve efficacy.

It is time we got Ministers out of management.


Call Centre Guide down in price

The price of The Vanguard Guide to Transforming Call Centre Operations has not just been cut – it has been slashed. We used to sell the Guide for £1,500, assuming users would take advantage of the ‘free’ consulting offered with it. But we find that users are able to follow the guidance and make substantial improvements in their call centre’s performance. So the price of the Guide has been slashed from £1,500 to only £295. Amazing value for money.

This is what the most recently contacted user said:

‘I purchased your Call Centre guide a few months ago after seeing you at a seminar at Napier University. I must say it is an excellent book and I have really managed to motivate the team and analyse wasteful processes in our organisation. It has been a catalyst for improvement of our customer service operations and well received by all our staff.

Thanks for producing such a useful guide!’

James A McLean
Customer Service Director
Zonal Retail Data Systems Ltd.

Other users of Vanguard methods can be listened to on the audio-tape ‘Transforming Call Centre Operations’. Order the tape

Order your copy of the Guide


Management is responsible!

I received the following from one of the Japanese team who recently undertook a study tour of ISO 9000 in the UK:

‘When I visited England, (company X) gave me the very thick manual. I have been able to read it at a stretch. Today I get to one of the final parts. When I read ‘Disciplinary Procedures’, I am surprised at the thinking re: controlling the conduct of employees. The manual states that if the conduct or performance of an employee does not meet acceptable standards, the employee will receive a warning. The warnings consist of following four stages.

1. Stage1-Oral Warning
2. Stage2-Written Warning
3. Stage3-Final Written Warning or Disciplinary Suspension
4. Stage3-Dismissal

Examples of gross misconduct are theft, fraud, deliberate falsification of records, fighting, assault on another person, deliberate damage to company property, etc.

I cannot find the management responsibility in it.’

Good question. But they didn’t think about it in that way did they?


ISO 9000 doing damage in the Philippines

A correspondent in Manilla writes:

‘Here in Manila, the ISO local assessors first grant ‘registration’ and then a few months later, withhold ‘certification’ because a couple of forms are missing….causing a lot of expensive and wasted man-hours to try to these assessors again….and upon every visit to the client, enjoying catered lunches for their benefit, and charging him outrageously for a ‘consultant’ who comes every day, chauffeured in her Pajero, just to pore over the client’s forms and reports.’

‘For our relatively poor, developing country, this is ruinous to locally funded and highly financed firms. Over the past 2 years, production is down, waste up, employee morale at a low and getting lower, since supervisors have no time whilst filling up forms all day, to be actively involved on the floor with their teams.’

And all in the name of quality.. Without coercion (‘you comply or we won’t buy’) ISO would surely die.


ISO 9000 causing depression in Japan

A leading World Class Manufacturing consultant in Japan is writing a guide to ISO 9000: 2000. He writes to me:

‘I am now busy with writing a book about ISO9000. But reading the new Standards intensively to write comments, I have increasingly become depressed due to their ridiculous contents.’

If you have no choice but to use ISO 9000, then use the Vanguard Standards – a systems thinker’s guide to interpretation and use of ISO 9000: 2000. This is available FREE