The evidence base

April 5, 2009

I’ve mentioned Gerry McGovern before, followed his writing for ten years, and along with the thinking that pops up on he frequently calls us to Gemba. His latest epistle does no less and uses examples including Amazon and Walmart.

I highly recommend a read for those who want to see how successful web managers do it! It applies univerally, as well.


Making contact with NI 14

February 24, 2009

The electronic version of the Municipal Journal we will be streaming a live debate on NI14 this Thursday (26th February 2009) at 12:00 noon. If you tune in you can ask questions to the panel via an interactive service. You may have to register (free) on the site if you haven’t already.

Further to that,  Ruination Day, as it was named by Gillian Welch, approaches!  The 14th day of April will soon be here, the anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, the Titanic striking the iceberg and probably many other things (well, there’s a one in 365 and a bit chances).

The 14th day of April is the date I chose in 2008 to launch my questionnaire around e-government metrics, along with first publicising the blog I named the Great E-mancipator, another Abe Lincoln link. The blog has had a steaday stream of visitors since, the questionnaire received sufficient responses to make it worthwhile, so many thanks to those who have contributed to this piece of action research.

This year I’m repeating part of the survey to discover any developments in the past twelve months, along with a slight extension to pick up any vibes around recording satisfaction, dissatisfaction or engagement. Although, as the literature advises I’m keeping the number of questions within reason i.e. less than fifteen “real” questions, but ethical research requires I add five more!

The recording of “avoidable contact”, if properly done, could have benefits, in that users might reconsider their systems from the point of view of the citizen interaction, but what if the citizen is largely avoiding contact due to poor channel implementation? How will we ever find out? My view of measurement has come about by looking at the options reviewed in the literature, and in the private sector, and seeing engagement proposed. We can measure the amount of contact over the channels and see which ones are being used and, possibly importantly, when. We can encourage feedback across all the channels from both citizens and staff, to highlight issues with the employment of those channels for service delivery and how the service is delivered. We can used this combined information to improve service delivery, along with channel usage. It goes a little further than systems thinking and “Gemba“, it reaches out to the citizens, and, rather than employing sophisticated forumulae as proposed by Parasuraman and particularly those who have followed him most recently, it keeps it simple and monitors developments over time.

Are there any suggestions out there? What questions would you ask about NI14? What measures can you imagine being used to improve service delivery across the range of current and future channels?

Citizen Engagement Exchange

December 1, 2008

Having continually exercised my model against the literature and now against the supplers ideas, along with the growing challenge of government expectations for measurement, I am now reassessing it and fortunately haven’t found it wanting.

 Where the model does need development is in ensuring that the expectations gap is met at the level of politicians, management and citizens. I’m currently concluding that the power of the model is proven by the fact that expectations are not the same across channels and that they also change with channel usage, also that using citizen co-development to transform channels is the ideal. I’m calling this ‘citizen engagement management’ and the review process whether that be that a dashboard, scorecard or whatever, the ‘citizen engagement exchange’.

Feeding into this ‘exchange’ we have the channels, the management and politician feedback to the citizen feedback, which may be management or political priorities, along with citizen and officer feedback, this provides some measure of importance to the feedback, especially if it is low or high from the citizen perspective i.e. lots of complaints or few. The output from the ‘exchange’ is then directed into refocusing management, reviewing processes or systems, or even examining how channels are used.

I need to re-emphase that engagement is qualitative and not about pure numbers, it is about watching out for the variation that throws processes, systems or management out of sync and putting them back on track. The ‘Gemba‘ has to be the whole, the end-to-end systems, and this is refined by the ‘exchange’, which is core of the customer engagement process.

company-table-v3 of the supplier list is now available with a further addition. These systems or applications are just a way of collecting data when engaging with the public, they only become of value when the information supplied is used to change existing practice.

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.