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Jim Morris's Thought of the Week (or month, or year, ...)

Friday, June 01, 2007

John Seely Brown on Service Innovation

The SRII symposium last week was meant to persuade us that research on services is needed.

The most compelling speaker was John Seely Brown who told stories rather than lecturing. He
beleives that many important innovations have already appeared if we could only recognize them.

· From a study of an accounts-payable department, he learned that people’s real goal is to make the final record look as if the prescribed procedures had been followed. Of course, having one’s accounts payable department be inefficient is one of the ways to improve cash-flow, so one shouldn’t be surprised to see strange things.

· Xerox copier repairmen benefited far more from walkie-talkies that supported group problem solving than any other kind of support. This was discovered long before cell phones and instant messaging were common.

· Some Asian outsourcing operations achieve rapid task learning by assigning only four workers per manager.

· Toyota’s famous “one worker can stop the line” system works so well because the problems identified are clear and specific, not hidden in reports and statistics.

· Craigslist continues to be one of the top ten web sites while employing only 23 people. The secret seems to be empowering and co-opting the “customers.”

· has a unique method of running product/service design focus groups. They use genetic algorithms to converge on good designs.

· The new service design economy advantages Emotional Quotient over Intelligence Quotient.

We should all read his books!

posted by Jim Morris @ 10:43 PM 


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