Magazine

Foster internal alignment and collaboration

For change to succeed we must foster internal alignment and collaboration. Innovators and designers in businesses understand customer needs and create ideas and visions for how to meet these needs. However, much of the work we must do – if we hope to see our designs implemented – is in the engagement of the organization. For a change to be successful the instigators of the change will need to take people with them. It is likely that each team will need to adapt its working practices and processes and it is essential that these practices align to create a coherent and well-functioning operation.

This article builds on a chapter of our book, Service Design for Business, and further explores the insights on internal alignment and collaboration outlined in the chapter on this topic – we also provide some specific case studies.

Takeaways

  • The instigators of change need to take people with them to be successful
  • Visual representations of experiences help engage teams in a vision
  • Involve back office teams in service design, they contribute a wealth of insight
  • Collaboration and alignment can be achieved quickly with good facilitation and design

Stories make engagement better

Insight 1: Services are difficult to articulate clearly and classic tools such as requirement specifications, business documents, and Project Initiation Documents (PIDs) do not communicate the desired experience. Visual representations of experiences in the form of scenarios that tell a story help engage teams in a vision and solicit their involvement and contribution.

Services are intangible. It’s easier to understand a product that is defined by the company than the services it provides. This is partly due to the fact that a service is something that happens in the customer’s world as much as the organizational one – and this is happening more and more as customers access services on their own devices in their own homes or businesses.

The service only really exists when a customer uses it and it exists in the experience that the customer has.

This makes understanding the service difficult, especially if we spend most of our time in our businesses rather than in the customer’s world.

A powerful way to tackle this challenge is to engage with the experience as stories and scenarios that describe the customer’s experience and the interactions they have with the service provider. This can be done in a range of ways from interviewing customers and capturing their experience as a story in words, images or video. This enables teams to understand what is really going on in a service and also to use the material for analysis and to identify opportunities.

Engage staff to gain valuable insights

Insight 2: Involving back office teams in customer experience work is hugely valuable. When engaging teams in service design, we find that they contribute a wealth of insight and ideas that improves the initial concepts and inspires the development of more effective back office practices. By back office teams we mean people who are involved in business processes or capabilities that are required to run the organization. This could be operational, administration, technology or legal teams. Often these teams bear the brunt of the operational pain caused by poor service design as they pick up the complaints and exceptions or are blamed for creating barriers that prevent people from ‘just getting on with it’.
The challenge for these teams is that they are rarely involved in the creation of a service and do not really understand its goals or the customers’ experience. If they are engaged with a clear vision and target experience, they are delighted to find out what is going on and the role they play. They can then help to refine the details to turn a great concept into a reality.

Collaboration is a valuable competence

Insight 3: Collaboration and alignment can be achieved quickly with good facilitation and design tools. Bringing the right people into a room and structuring their input leads to rapid concept  developments.At Livework we have lost track of the number of times we have heard the remark that it is great to get everyone in a room working together on a challenge. This is not an accident, but it is remarkable that it is remarkable. Collaboration and teamwork are frequently high on the wish list of a CEO – as the evidence is there that this is a valuable component in a high performing business.
Collaboration is not often taught in business schools or businesses and as a result people do not have the competencies to collaborate, especially if the goal is to create something new. Service design brings two things to enable collaboration that can be learnt and adopted.The first skill is facilitation – facilitation of creativity. To do this facilitation we have highly considered and designed workshops or working sessions. We think about the inputs, outputs and approach we need to get the results we want. We then make sure that the approach is maintained but there is room for discussion and ideas. We also lean heavily on some key tools.Tools for collaboration enable us to do two things; capture the insights, ideas, input, feedback from the group together and enable individuals in the team to have their voice or ideas heard. This resolves two issues that we see in badly run workshops. First, the tools ensure things are documented and second, they ensure that individuals are able to contribute and feel valued.

Why Read On?

Internal alignment and collaboration are important in engaging teams across organizations to ensure your design is implemented. In our book, Service Design for Business, you can find out more about:

  1. How to align your organization around new or improved services
  2. How collaboration can be quick and high impact
  3. How to align around customer experience

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