Getting to Gemba*

November 7, 2008

As I prepare the latest draft of my dissertation for my supervisors, along with the finishing off the presentation I am giving at the EiP conference on the 11th November, I focus upon the my research questions, the latest literature I’ve read and attempt to refine my ideas.

Whilst gap analysis in its various formulations has potential, it introduces too much complexity into the multi-channel model for my liking. The ‘gaps’ can and should still be employed but following feedback though and about the channel delivery, along with the service.

It is down to co-production and Genchi Genbutsu, as the Toyota Production System (TPS) puts it (“go and see for yourself”) to highlight and correct the issues or close the gaps, preferably before they occur, be they over-expectation on the part pf the citizen, under-expectation on their part, or underestimation on the part of policy-makers, politicians or deliverers. The thing to do is to have the mechanisms to collect the feedback, particularly dissatisfaction, with honour and employ this to tune the service delivery.

*Gemba – another TPS term, this time meaning the ‘place’, what might have been variously known as the shopfloor, coal face or, in education, the chalk face.


Who is doing what at the moment in local government? Joined-up research…

October 26, 2008

I had been in touch with Brendan McCarron of the CIPFA Performance Improvement Network in the past and it had been he that had pointed me to the paper on the Scottish Accounts Commission on gap analysis that I’ve mentioned before:

He has been working with Simon Speller, councillor and academic (who was referenced in the aforementioned report) on customer satisfaction in a series of works for the CIPFA Performance Improvement Network – Improving Customer Satisfaction.

On the 9th October I gave a short presentation in Preston on an academic view of customer satisfaction for the ESD-Toolkit group looking at Customer Insight which is related to the one on profiling. This also provided some feedback to my research – ESD-Toolkit – Customer profiling & satisfaction

On November 11th I am presenting another academic view at the EiP conference in London, the EiP Group is looking at Customer Insight, Citizen Engagement and Change In Local Government

How many more networks are there? I’ve also been involved with Socitm‘s discussions around metrics and these overlap with the ESD-Toolkit since both employ GovMetric, a couple of whose staff I had conversations with at the outset of my research.

Are we all talking to each other folks or are you relying upon me talking to you?

Promises, pledges and satisfaction

October 6, 2008

One of my regular correspondents, even if he doesn’t respond on the blog, is Angus Doulton of EiP, who I am presenting with at their annual conference in November.

Angus had been considering my conference paper and was criticising my proposal about using ‘satisfaction’ as a measure! I admitted that I had come to agree with that – its use for things like the Place survey had reduced any value it once had, citizens probably provide the quality of their last experience with the organization as a value, not an average figure or something of use!

A very current paper by Oliver James of the University of Exeter entitled “Evaluating the Expectations Disconfirmationand Expectations Anchoring Approaches to Citizen Satisfaction with Local Public Services’ supports this approach. Moving on from the classic work by Parasuraman et al and also Van Ryzin’s practical testing of it, James’ conclusion is that managing expectations and perceived outcomes is very important. He also reflects upon the binary measures of dissatisfaction and satisfaction.

Hence, perhaps slightly in parallel with Angus, I am getting a stronger perception that the value comes in collating dissatisfaction and measuring it as a binary by channel to consider channel use, migration and transfer. We need to have anchored expectations and determine what the gap is between that and what is delivered, these should be the variations that flag up when service improvement is required.

Vanguard (John Seddon and associates) in their latest report on National Indicator 14 (avoidable contact) make the statement that “managing value is the key to removing failure and that in managing value you need measures that relate to purpose from the customers’ point of view.”

Angus himself has proffered ‘service promises’ as a solution, which seems, coincidentally, to reflect a proposal in the new future of policing Green Paper about a policing pledge! These are not too far away the anchored expectations gap, the question is: what do we use for the actual metric for the range of services and channels, can promises or pledges be set for them all, or do we seek out dissatisfaction and cure it?

At the EiP conference we will be trying to clarify potential measures derived from promises and pledges and produce something of use to practitioners and of value to the citizen.

James, O. (2007). “Evaluating the Expectations Disconfirmation and Expectations Anchoring Approaches to Citizen Satisfaction with LocalPublic Services.” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory: 1 – 17.

Van Ryzin, G. G., Immerwahr, S., (2007). “Importance-Performance Analysis of Citizen Satisfaction Surveys.” Public Administration 85(1): 215 – 226.

Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, V.A., Berry, L.L., (1988). “SERVQUAL: A multiple-item scale for measuring consumer perceptions of service quality.” Journal of Retailing 64(1 Spring): 12-40.

So, what’s the vision?

September 20, 2008

Socitm were presenting last week on Web 2.0, I’m arguing for a Citizen-oriented Service Architecture to be planned across the board (including a metric model), the Invisible Hand gang argue for access to data and central government and its contractors continue to lose public trust by losing their data!

Having completed the splendid book by Jeffrey Roy about E-Government in Canada, a great deal of which covered the above issues, particularly public trust, I’m now onto a book that Mantex promoted.(I’ve subscribed to Roy’s newsletter since it started and its always worth a read, even if only for the ‘pub quiz’ questions that flow through it! 

The book by Merholz et al, Subject to Change, encourages us to use customer experience to shape the product development process. In my simple way I thought this might project an opinion around service delivery to the citizen, and it does.

My developing model has the citizen in their community of needs at the front. They approach the resolution of those needs or services approach them, potentially, via the full range of service channels depending upon the service or the citizen’s needs. This will include appropriate security, it may also include Web 2.0.

Overlapping the service channels but feeding back to the citizen and the service is the performance layer that will capture information from those served and those serving about satisfaction and numbers.

Feeding into the range of service channels are the serices themselves, presented in a citizen-oriented service architecture that may allow ‘invisible hands’ access or third sector users, subject to secuity and legalities but taking and delivering transactions and information as required by the media of the service delivery channels.

The performance layer will tune the service layer or refine citizen expectations at the front end, according to feedback.

Where does Merholz et al fit in? Right at the beginning they state that a persons experience of a service emerges from certain qualities which are:







This all means that we need to deliver to expectations and abilities (social inclusion), engaging well with citizens to ensure that the experience is of value! If none of these are fulfilled we want to know why, so we can try and sort it out!

On Friday morning on the 26th September my supervisors Ben and Richard will be presenting the initial research into this realm at Ethicomp 2008 at the University of Mantua. My thanks to them, I hope it is found interesting and no hard questions are asked in my absence. I’m hoping to refine the measure(s) and model at the EiP Conference in November and also at the ESD-Toolkit Customer Insight Working Group in Preston in October.

So, I’m not a lone voice crying in the wilderness, I’ve found a few wildernesses to cry out in!

Conference call!

September 5, 2008

If you don’t want to go to ETHICOMP 2008 in Italy to hear about my research I am doing a session at the EiP Conference in London on November 11, 2008.

After a key session by Wendy Schratz of Egg there will be a “whole group” discussion led by Angus Doulton and I concluding with a debate on ‘measures’. The aim will be to get as close as we can in conference to agreeing a small set of measures that are worthwhile. We will then test and develop these measures in group work through the year.  What do you think? Can we do it? It’ll all help towards phase two of my research!

Early bookings have started!

Another session I’ve been invited to attend but don’t think I’ll make it is:

Scot Web 2

Friday, October 31, 2008 from 10:00 AM – 04:00 PM (GMT)

Edinburgh University Holyrood Campus
Paterson’s Land
Holyrood Road
Edinburgh, Edinburgh City EH8 8AQ
United Kingdom