The costs of maintenance incurred by dealers working on customers’ equipment was decided to be too high. An immediate control was put in place – all dealers had to ‘phone for price authorisation prior to every repair. Queuing time on the customer service desk went from 35 seconds to 335 seconds.

For the dealers, it became a pain to service this company’s equipment. Some customers’ jobs were not finished when the customers expected because they had not yet got authorisation. The impact got through to the customer in a variety of trivial ways (“It’s not my fault mate, you should have your equipment with someone else”).

When managers realised their mistake, they issued a new control – only orders over £75.00 needed prior authorisation.

“Wrong answer!” said the people in the front-line (though managers were not listening to them). They were closer to the issues : some dealers were more reliable than others, some repairs were costed more variably than others. These were the data which would have led to improvement.