“Systems and processes are essential to keep the crusade going, but they should not replace the crusade.” Simon Sinek
Organizations are complex adaptive systems. They consist of interconnected, interwoven components or sets of things that work together as part of a mechanism or interconnecting and dynamic network to achieve an overall goal.
If you take away or change a component it affects the whole system. Ralph Stacey, an eminent figure in the field of complexity, points out that all human systems are ‘self-organizing’ and not open to control. Interactions between humans are co-created and emergent, with multiple possible outcomes at each point of engagement. A complex environment consists of any number of competing factors, combinations of agents and potential outcomes.
The Ralph Stacey Complexity model
Supporting the right functions
The components of the organization system can be viewed in different ways. One perspective is a collection of different functions where the Human Resources (HR) team could be one component, the service delivery team another, the outsourced supply chain another and so on.
These functions are interdependent, so if there is a high performing service delivery team, but the HR processes and procedures are not working well, then the performance of the whole organization is lessened.
“Systems are not sexy – but they really DO drive everything we do!” Carrie Wilkerson
Systems & Processes is the fourth ‘Element’ of the SERVICEBRAND approach. We think of this as the organization’s infrastructure: a collection of ‘assets’ assisting the strategic alignment and co-ordinated execution of the Brand Identity, Employee Engagement and Customer Experience Elements.
We define the Systems & Processes ‘Element’ as the arrangement of resources, communication framework, technology infrastructure and governance to enable and support delivery of a brand aligned Customer Experience. Resources refers to people, functions, information, finance, property, and equipment.
Systems in support
The focus on an alignment and support role is critical because, otherwise, there is a risk that areas within your systems and processes can achieve a disproportionate level of importance to the detriment of the brand identity, employee engagement or customer experience. Can you relate to these quotes?
– “Your details cannot be located because the system needs a case number.”
– “I cannot serve you with a cup of hot water because it is against the company health & safety policy.”
– “Do you have a reservation?” in an empty restaurant.
– “Unless you have your booking reference, you will not be admitted to the event.”
– “The delivery day cannot be changed so if nobody is at the address it will be delivered the following day.”
– “I can only issue you with a uniform when the approval form is received from your department manager.”
– “To collect your train ticket, you must have the credit card you used to pay for it.”
– “Your query will be dealt with by the foreign exchange team. I am unable to transfer you and they do not make outgoing calls so please call this number…”
– “I do not know why you were able to make a reservation for those dates because our arrival date is always a Saturday.”
In all these examples, for whatever reason, the organization’s systems are not helping to achieve the best outcomes and, in some cases, present an active obstacle. Many organizations have issues like this and others: people are swamped by systems that require a lot of maintenance, and meta-work (work about work e.g., meetings, project planning, progress reviews) can take more time and effort than the work that needs to be done.
Using the SERVICEBRAND approach helps to maintain a focus on what is important (aligned brand identity, employee engagement and customer experience) and to keep in check the component parts within the Systems & Processes ‘Element’. In Simon Sinek’s words above, they do not replace the crusade.