Tag Archives: Performance

Quality – Measuring what gets Delivered

Quality is what we deliver. Every organisation works on measuring their product or services delivery performance.  A few pertinent questions around Delivery Performance Measurement are:

1. Are we Measuring what we are Delivering?

The most obvious response to this would be “yes”.  However, often these measurements are from business or organisations perspective not customers perspective. For example, a recruitment consulting organisation was measuring the proportion of requirements (positions) that have been closed, but the time taken to close was not getting measured. Even in cases when it was being measured, the definition of start point and end point of the process was not defined. Often organisations view is narrower than customers’ view. For example, the consulting company may look at starting point as the time when they received requirement, but customer may be considering the start point as the time when they have communicated or released order. In most repair workshop the start time on job is from the time the vehicle was handed over to workshop. For customer the count down begins from the time he has entered the workshop.

2. Do we tell customers what we are delivering?

There must be organisations who are measuring a lot of indicators. How much of it is being communicated to customers? Even when it is communicated, it is communicated only when it is asked for. A common example is in the banks. Most banks have defined and displayed SLA’s on how long it should take for customers to get their services from a counter for different category of services. Some examples are time taken to get a demand draft or time taken to withdraw cash etc. How many times customers are told the performance of the Bank on those parameters? Why declare a standard if it doesn’t get measured or do not get shared. Another example would be TataSky (in India) may be communicating with customers on the additions of channels or new services. But they rarely communicate the data on outages (downtime) in services for various reasons that can be assigned to their delivery performance.

3. Do we inform our stakeholders on what we are delivering?

There are others in the organisation who would be interested in knowing what is being delivered. In many FMCG companies, it is very common to provide more than declared quantity to ensure compliance. This is often called as Give Away. There are many instances where this is not measured periodically and communicated to all stakeholders.  There have been instance of complaints on lesser weights / quantity based on what was being given not based on what is declared.

A survey conducted by ASQ along with American Productivity and Quality Centre (APQC) was published in August 2013 issue of Quality Progress. One of the interesting finding was that only 27% of organisations agreed that they provide information about delivery to their customers. The rest were either not providing or providing it in parts. What is more worrying is only 33% of front-line staff measures this on a daily basis. At this level of measurement, any improvement in customer delivery performance would be either incidental or in pockets.  This article is available at http://asq.org/quality-progress/2013/08/global-quality/measuring-up.html. Access to this article may require membership to ASQ.

It is important to understand the reasons behind the instances and issues relating to measuring and communicating Delivery Performance Measure:

  1. Many professionals do not invest in understanding the requirements of the customer. The “marketing” today at ground level has become more of “what organisation provides” rather than “what issues of customer gets resolved” This calls for switching from “looking from organisation’s perspective” to “looking from customer’s perspective. This often requires investment and building knowledge about how customers uses the products and services. Such approaches would lead to genuine Value Additions from customer’s perspective. A leading service provider had divided it customers into Premium and General category. The only differentiating factor was the price that is being charged to the customers. The service delivery and communication of service delivery was same. This obviously over a period became a key factor in poor performances leading to significant customer’s dissatisfaction.
  2. The business and customers is progressively moving towards services. The products are merging into service. Most products are already a commodity or it is only a matter of time that they become commodity. Measuring services requires different tools, different thinking.
  3. Most stakeholders at the senior management get worried about services only after customer has submitted a formal complaint. The result of such thinking approach is that most organisation today measures “number of customer complaints received”. Most organisation have objectives on reducing customer complaints and often linked to the Performance Criterion of their managers.  This is possibly the easiest objective to achieve to impress the senior management in short run. The easiest way to achieve this would be to ignore complaints or convert complaints into inquiry.

Organisation would need to re-look at their processes and measurement system to bring in changes. Some of the steps would be

  1. Conduct a processing mapping exercise from customer’s perspective
  2. Minimize all measures that are not expectation of the customers
  3. Eliminate (if possible) all lag measures that are not  of customers’ interest
  4. Create a strong MIS or provide access to customers to know the status by themselves on the performance levels.

Self Consciousness is Enemy of Excellent Performance

Self Consciousness is Enemy of Excellent Performance

I first heard this phrase when I was listening to a TED Talk (Fix the Broken).The context of the talk was more to do with the social impact of the US Legal System. I looked at it from the perspectives of Excellent Performance of the people in organization. Last week a senior leader of an organization was asking me is it possible for people to be outstanding all the time and if so how do they know that they are outstanding. The two events (listening to TED talk and the question from a leader) happened within a short span.

Excellence in performance is an outcome of several dimensions. Our system today has taught us on how to create a system of performance starting from goal setting to review. While these systems are great and are required, it is important to note that they work well for most people. Such system do not excite the outliers.

We have got used to insisting people to be careful in what they are doing; too much emphasis on need to watch every step. While these are necessary rather important for beginners and growing professionals, but can become a bottleneck for good professional to perform excellently.  The speaker gave an example of pianist. It struck the string well for me as I see my son playing his piece on Piano. He often come back after his performance and plays back the recorded version to know how he performed. He come out with his own fault.

There few important points that could be seen only if one looks for them

  1. While playing he does not even know how he is playing. He is not looking at the keys that he is striking.
  2. He gets appreciations from great musicians like A R Rahman for his performance. He is happy but he stills listens to his piece to find if he was happy and he declares the points where he could have done better or differently.
  3. There is a judgment that he applies on how he is playing from time to time. The judgment is never just on a key stroke, it is on overall aspects of his play.

I tried imagining what if he would have been focusing on each of the key stroke while performing. He may do so while learning or practicing but not during performance. This is possible only when, we do not keep telling him at every stage (read policing) to be careful. His teacher is critical about his output during rehearsals and practices. He has been explained about the program; occasion, likely guests, the piece, expected outcome etc. These are not even reminded during real performance.

In nutshell, his performance is possible because he is not “Self Conscious” while he is performing. The formulae for his excellence is now ready.

Is there any way we can see this happening to many on the management floor? This calls for a significant change in mangers to stop policing. The most important factor for this is that Managers would need to learn to TRUST their people.