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Being the Biggest Loser of Service Delivery

October 14, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

As I sat and watched the Biggest Loser with my wife last night, it occurred to me that a lot of the lessons being taught on the show were also relevant to service delivery and ownership.

Contestants learn the importance of proper diet and exercise, and how just starving yourself and exercising 24×7 are not sufficient to lose weight in a healthy, sustainable, way. Instead, precise calorie counting and controlled exercise programs compatible with each contestant’s physical condition are the staples.

The same is true for service delivery where instead of calories, accurate and consistent performance data on the human, physical and financial resources consumed (ie the service inputs) are monitored. Matching that level of consumption with the expected activities is then required for optimum performance to occur without burnout.

Just as the contestants go from struggling to walk up a flight of stairs to running marathons, successful delivery of a service also increases its long-term potential. As customers make the service an indispensable part of their everyday needs they begin to look for more ways to use it, request more capabilities, or simply tell others about the benefits of the service. Each activity grows the service capacity.

The unexpected part for many competitors, however, comes in a third ingredient to the menu. That is, the trainers’ role in understanding the emotional reasons why the contestants became overweight in the first place. “How did you get to be over 400 pounds?” a contestant is asked. “One mouthful at a time” they seem to reply. So it is with service delivery, which often loses its performance one incident at a time until a culture exists that poor performance is the norm and that the service has such insurmountable obstacles that it is not worth improving.

Without addressing this underlying culture, any bloated, slow or unhealthy service is only going to achieve short-term improvements (think crash diets or New Year’s resolutions).

It is the job of the two trainers to guide the contestants to making the right choices in their diet, push them outside of their normal exercise comfort zones, change the value systems that lead them to becoming overweight in the first place, and take personal ownership and accountability for their recovery.

I wonder if Bob and Gillian would make good Service Owners?

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