McKinsey gets it wrong

In a recent paper McKinsey extolled the benefits of making public services digital. It stirred my ire – particularly as they used projected benefits as realised, a common outrageous Big Consultancy trick. So I did a Podcast on it, you can listen here.

I’m not the only one

From recent correspondence about the digital mania:

A friend, dealing with a change in family circumstances:

…not a day has gone past without our comparing notes about how unfailingly digital services make the customer experience more complicated, stressful, effortful, absurd and expensive to boot. All bullshit. Where did productivity go? It’s lying in its grave in digital services…

If only those investing in digital services knew… the impact on productivity is due to the inability of digital means to deal with variety, and public services exhibit lots of that.

A client-practitioner of the Vanguard Method:

I get a sense that the reliance on technology is an act of faith in the absence of any other idea about how to fix obvious problems.

Obvious to us. It is a fad. It will pass, but only after zillions has been wasted. Effective public services have to start with a human interaction. I discuss this in the McKinsey Podcast.

The killing of Alison

In my last newsletter I talked about a book, Lions, liars, donkeys and penguins: the killing of Alison. To me it illustrates the dysfunctional consequences of our current approach to regulation. Looking good means burying bad.

The Podcast is now available here.

Tom Bell, the author, is campaigning on the need for integrity in public service management. He is hosting an event, information here:

He deserves support.

Why Buurtzorg fails in the UK

In the last newsletter I wrote:

My most recent Podcast accounts for why Buurtzorg – a fantastic care service developed in The Netherlands – fails miserably when applied in the UK. It is a classic example of copying without knowledge. Guess what gets in the way: management’s failure to appreciate that they have to change their thinking about organisational controls; the UK experiments hit this wall, frustrating care staff and ensuring that benefits cannot be realised.

I had a chat with Jos de Blok, the man who developed Buurtzorg, he liked my Podcast. The same problems are occurring in other countries. You can listen here.

Service design: the latest fad

A reader wrote:

Do you know service design? It’s the latest fad after agile and lean, often used with digital services to design more customer friendly services…

Another wrote:

Service design reminds us of fine-tuning a car. We know how to paint a car in a new colour and add new tyres and rims. We may even opt for more stylish interior upholstery and a new sound system — but we very rarely increase the performance by changing the transmission, engine and gears (i.e. the system).

Another wrote:

The Service Design folks speak a lot about discovery, double-diamonds, prototyping, etc.  This all sounds good on the surface.  And what they are good at – being designers – is making everything look cool and pretty, which I guess makes things easier to sell.  However, although they touch upon how the work is designed, they barely touch upon how the work is managed.  As you know better than just about anyone, a changed and improved work design is unlikely to actually lead to improvement – at least in a sustainable way – if the way people manage it doesn’t change.  At best they lightly touch upon this in a very rational way, at worst not at all.

Another wrote:

My closest colleague is a well-known service designer in Finland, he has written the only book on service design in Finnish. I introduced him tVM about 1,5 years ago and he’s crossed the Rubicon, he’s really excited about tVM and wants to learn more. Among other things, he has learnt service design doesn’t address the real problem.

And I wonder why leaders are so gullible.

Upcoming events

If there’s one good thing about the virus crisis it’s that all events have to be online and, as a consequence, we have many overseas attendees. We have a series of events on people-centred services and the four-day action-learning programme covers all types of service organisations.

Thanks for reading!