Tag Archives: voice of the customer

The Kano model for team building – an alternative application for this Lean Sigma tool


By Elisabeth Goodman, 8th November 2015

The Kano model  is traditionally used as a ‘Voice of the Customer’ Lean Sigma tool

I had the pleasure of co-presenting a seminar with Carl Halford  recently, for the APM (Association for Project Management) Thames Valley Branch, on behalf of the Enabling Change SIG.

The full set of slides and the notes from our event: Process Improvement and Change Management are available on the APM website.

The Kano model is traditionally used in Lean and Six Sigma as a ‘Voice of the Customer’ tool, to understand customer requirements, and to distinguish between the ‘critical’ versus ‘nice to haves’.

Carl used the model for a lively interactive exercise with the delegates, using a dry cleaning business as the basis for the discussion.

The Kano model - illustration by Carl Halford for a Drycleaning model

The Kano model – illustration by Carl Halford for an APM event

Carl’s demonstration was a helpful reminder of how effective the Kano model can be as a tool for stakeholder analysis.

As he said, there can be no debate about the ‘must-haves’, or critical requirements.  If these are not satisfied, then those customers will never come back, and word-of-mouth could be your ruin.

The ‘more is better’ line (which I had learnt about as the ‘it depends’ requirements), are those that may make a difference to customers depending on their circumstances or what else is going on in the store on any particular day.

The ‘delighters’ are the ones that will win your customers’ loyalty, and cause them to recommend you to others.  Of course these ‘delighters’ are also a risk to managing your long-term resources as they may in time become expected ‘must-haves’.

Using the Kano model for team building

What especially peaked my interest was Carl’s suggestion that the Kano model could also be used for team building.

A team might have traditionally used the Kano model as part of a team meeting: to help extract what everyone already knows about their stakeholders, and to agree what other research or conversations might be needed to enhance that understanding.

Using the Kano model for team building works on the premise that each team member is a stakeholder in the team’s success.  Carl mentioned that he tends to use the model for project teams, but it could also be used for an operational team.

Each person is likely to have uniques ‘must haves’, ‘more is better’, and ‘delighter’ expectations.  There will also be some overlaps between what different people want.

I can imagine preparing a wall poster of the Kano model, and issuing each team member with post-it notes to provide the basis for a rich discussion and enhanced understanding of the various perspectives within the team.  If managed well, this might help the team through its ‘storming’ phase of development and pave the way for greater trust and support.

I’m looking forward to giving this alternative application of the Kano model a try, and of course will be curious to hear about anyone else’s experience of this approach.

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that helps business teams and their managers to enhance their effectiveness for greater productivity and improved team morale. (We use coaching, training, facilitation, mentoring and consulting in our work with our clients.)

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting just under 6 years ago, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis. 

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner.  

She is a member of CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals) and of APM (Association for Project Management).

The “Lean Startup” approach to understanding customer needs


By John Riddell

Notes from a Cambridge Network talk by Eric Ries

I attended the January Cambridge Network meeting, which was focused on a talk by Eric Ries, the author of a new book entitled “The Lean Startup”.

Eric had developed the book based on the lessons learned by entrepreneurial start-ups of software companies that he had worked with in California’s Silicon Valley.  Most of these companies had been driving forward Web 2.0, and had either failed or been taken over.

Opportunities to use Lean to improve start-up success

Eric saw the opportunity to apply Lean principles both to identify value in the eyes of the customer, and to reduce the cycle times involved for gathering and obtaining learnings and so improve on their performance.

He described a “pivot approach”.  This involves “keeping one foot planted in what your idea is and the other moving with learning”.  The idea is that, as you gain feedback on your product or idea, you “pivot” (or change your plan) towards what the customer really wants.

The value of focusing on what your customer wants

The “Lean Startup” approach resonated with me as “focusing on your customers” is RiverRhee Consulting’s first principle for enhancing team effectiveness.  This enables you to identify what your customers want (and not what you think they want).

Of course you need to work out how to find out what your potential customers want, and it might involve recognition of the failure of the bright idea that you were so enthusiastic about!

Experimentation vs. customer surveys

An interesting point in Eric’s presentation was his differentiation between using a customer survey, where a broad range of feedback can be obtained from a wide sample of customers (with the results shaping general direction and strategy), and the use of experimentation.

With experimentation, customers can handle a product (in a trial or pilot), give feedback on the product, and, most importantly, give feedback as to whether they would purchase the product or not.  Once you have that knowledge and recognise that you need to change direction then you need to fire up and go again!

The more frequent the number of cycles in which this occurs the better.

In his presentation Eric emphasised that there is no point in brilliantly executing a start-up plan to produce something that nobody wants.  He also emphasised not leaving change “until the building is on fire”!

Closing thoughts

TV programmes like Dragon’s Den and The Apprentice have given us all more exposure to the concept of entrepreneurs and new business start-ups.

Eric’s background with software company start-ups in Silicon Valley seems a long way from the pharmaceutical manufacturing environment that I’m familiar with.  It was very interesting to see both kinds of organisation connected by Lean principles.

Notes

John Riddell is an Associate with RiverRhee Consulting.  He has held technical, operational and project management roles in pharmaceutical manufacturing working with both small and large teams from a local to a global basis. John is a certified practitioner in Lean Six Sigma and is highly experienced in knowledge management.  He has developed a successful programme to coach leaders in developing teams that have multiple cultures and are spread across global locations.

 

Lean Six Sigma and Project Management – triangles and (virtuous) circles


By Elisabeth Goodman and John Riddell

On 6th July, we held a very enjoyable second iteration of our APM workshop on this topic in Norwich, having run it previously in Stevenage in May.

As with the previous seminar, our audience ranged from people and organisations with very limited knowledge of Lean and Six Sigma, to those who had adopted it as a way of working.  So the challenge was, in 1 to 1 ½ hours, to give enough of an overview of Lean and Six Sigma for those who were new to the subject, without boring those with already a fair amount of expertise.

At the same time, our goal was to make the session as interactive as possible, with discussions and exercises that would enable people to actively reflect, learn from each other, and more importantly, consider if and how Lean and Six Sigma could assist them in their roles as Project Managers.

Our mapping of Lean and Six Sigma against the project triangle seemed to resonate with the delegates i.e. with Lean aiming to reduce time and cost, and Six Sigma aiming to increase quality.

We achieved an excellent level of discussion and interaction in both seminars, and here are some of the conclusions that the delegates came to.

There are many Lean and Six Sigma tools that people have already found to be useful and/or anticipate being useful.

Examples of tools highlighted during the discussion in Norwich were:

  • Kano (and Voice of the Customer)
  • Time value map
  • Use of historical data
  • Control charts
  • 5 Whys
  • Gemba
  • Poke Yoke
  • Pareto Analysis

Our audience in Stevenage listed more or less the whole gamut of Lean and Six Sigma tools!

Lean and Six Sigma can definitely enhance the delivery of projects.

Delegates were unanimous in this,.  One break-out group suggested that Lean and Six Sigma fits particularly well with the operations area of organisations, and that process improvement initiatives will lead to projects.

Delegates identified several ways for how Lean and Six Sigma could enhance the delivery of projects.

Using Lean and Six Sigma at the start of a project (during the concept and definition stages).

The Define, Measure and Analyse stages of the Lean Six Sigma DMAIC framework and associated tools can be very effective in identifying the problems which will lead to generating and/or justifying projects.

They help to define what the problems are and how to address them, and also to define the project brief.

Tools such as Pareto analysis help to identify the things that are important, and make sure that the biggest issues are tackled first.

Process analysis will help to eliminate waste before implementing new (e.g. IT) solutions.

The Lean Six Sigma tools and the data-based approach create greater confidence.

Delegates particularly liked the ability to use robust data collection techniques and tools such as force-field analysis to structure their thinking.

They also liked the ‘5 Whys’ for getting at the root causes of problems and surfacing clients’ real issues.  They also suggested using ‘5S’ to organise information (not just physical things)

The Improve stage of DMAIC can help with the implementation stage of projects

It can help with the definition of roles in a project, in particular in relation to sponsors and to ensure that the project is focusing on what is of value to the customer (this also happens at the Concept and Definition stages of projects), and relating that to the realization of benefits.

The Control stage of DMAIC (and Knowledge Management) can help with project close out

Many delegates were already familiar with the idea of capturing learnings at project close-out, but they liked the fuller ‘After Action Review’ (AAR) frame-work and the emphasis on considering who can learn from the lessons learnt.

They also liked how the various visual tools of Lean and Six Sigma could help with ‘highlight reporting’ in project management.

The Lean and Six Sigma and Project Management ‘virtuous’ circle may go on infinitely or break and re-start depending on the organisation.

Our presentation included a suggested overlay of the Lean and Six Sigma DMAIC structure over the project lifecycle.  Delegates pointed out that this may be the case in organisations such as Pharmaceutical R&D where projects are the regular way of working.  In other organisations, the DMAIC structure continues into the operational way of working once a project is completed, although it may in time spawn new projects.

Notes

  1. Elisabeth Goodman is Owner and Principal Consultant and John Riddell is Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting– a Business Consultancy that helps business teams to enhance team effectiveness for greater productivity and improved team morale.
  2. To see previous newsletters and blogs on subjects relating to Lean and Six Sigma, and Project Management see the RiverRhee Consulting newsletter, and Elisabeth Goodman’s blog site.

Transitioning Library and Information Service customers from consumers to collaborators – we still have a way to go..


Last week I attended Day 2 of Internet Librarian International 2010 (#ILI2010), to hear the latest on the use of social media in libraries.  The title of this blog is inspired by Dr Hazel Hall’s1 keynote presentation where she talked, amongst other things, about the need to help Library and Information Services users to evolve from merely consuming the information they receive through social media, to collaborating in its creation and evolution.

Two-way communication with customers on social media is hard to achieve.

Hazel Hall, and later speakers Karen Wallace and Nancy Dowd described how social media such as Flickr, Twitter, Facebook or just simple text messaging, can be used to extend information services.  Many Library and Information Services are using social media in this way.  However, from recent discussions at NetIKX2 seminars on social media, and also on SharePoint, truly two-way conversations and interactions with customers that will lead to actual collaboration and innovation are much harder to achieve via these media.

There are still untapped face-to-face opportunities for achieving strong customer engagement.

My train journeys to and from London and France, are great opportunities to catch-up on my reading, and the CILIP article on ‘customer journey mapping’3 was an excellent illustration of what more can be done to better understand customers’ needs and engage with them in service development.  Erika Gavillet gave examples of how sitting with customers whilst they use some aspect of her services, or having staff members be ‘a customer for a day’ can identify re-designs to make work spaces more effective, result in improved instructions, and generally help staff to engage more closely and effectively with their customers.

I particularly like the ‘customer journey mapping’ approach as it resonates with my view about the need to get closer to our customers.  Questionnaire-based surveys tend to be the default approach to understanding customer requirements.  However even short face-to-face or telephone discussions are so much more powerful in building the kind of relationship with our customers that can ultimately lead to collaboration and partnership.

Branding is also a route to greater partnership with our customers

As Antony Brewerton and Sharon Tuersley of the University of Warwick Library explain in the October issue of Library and Information Update4, branding is not only about names and logos, but also about the quality of our information products and services, and, most importantly but least tangibly, about the actual and perceived value of what we deliver to our customers.  When customers truly identify with our brand, not only will they use us in preference to others, but they will also advocate us to friends, family or colleagues, and take greater interest in how we develop our products and services.

As Karen Blakeman powerfully illustrated with an anecdote in her presentation at #ILI2010, a library user might tweet about the lack of books by a particular author in their library, so that social media can be a valuable, and possibly essential way to monitor user feedback on our brand.  But we still have a way to go to really engage customers so that they become not only consumers of Library and Information products and services, but real partners in their development.

Notes

  1. Dr Hazel Hall is Director of the Centre for Social Informatics in the School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University. She also leads the implementation of the UK Library and Information Science Research Coalition. Hazel was named IWR Information Professional of the Year in December 2009.
  2. NetIKX – www.netikx.org
  3. Erika Gavillet (2010).  Short cuts to satisfied customers.  Library and Information Gazette. 2-15 September 2010 p.11
  4. Antony Brewerton and Sharon Tuersley (2010).  More than just a logo – branding at Warwick.  Library and Information Update. October 2010 pp.46-48
  5. Elisabeth Goodman is Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, enhancing team effectiveness through process improvement, knowledge and change management. Follow the links to find out about how Elisabeth Goodman and RiverRhee Consulting can help your team to work more effectively for greater productivity and improved team morale.  Read Elisabeth Goodman’s blog for more discussions on topics covered by this blog.

Using surveys and other approaches for determining customer value in Medical Information


Understanding what your customers value is a key criterion for the effectiveness, and indeed the success, of any business support team.  It’s a criterion that Medical Information (MI) teams in the Pharmaceutical Industry understand well, as evidenced by the presentations and discussions in this year’s Medical Information and Communications track of the DIA’s 3rd Annual Clinical Forum in Nice, France (1)

Elisabeth Goodman, principal consultant at RiverRhee Consulting (3) was fortunate to be accepted by the Medical Information and Communications Programme Committee as a speaker on “Using surveys to understand what our internal customers value”, for a session on “Raising the Profile of Medical Information”.  Elisabeth took the opportunity to listen to what others have to say on the subject.  This article, with the kind permission of the speakers involved, documents what she learnt during the course of the conference.

Andrew Williams, Senior Director of European Medical Operations at GSK, has this definition of MI: “The production, maintenance and delivery of medical information content to unsolicited enquiries from healthcare professionals and consumers.” MI customers, as described by Jin Tompot-Vermaat, Manager Medical Information Center, Centocor, include the obvious external ones (HealthCare Practitioners (HCPs), Physicians, and Patients), but also internal staff (Medical Affairs, Marketing, Sales, Regulatory, Pharmacovigilance).

Jin Tompot-Vermaat also, in her description of the competencies needed by MI staff, nicely illustrated the qualities that any customer of a global MI team might also value: customer orientation, flexibility, an understanding of cultural aspects, ability to meet target timelines, verbal and written communication skills, bi- and tri-lingual fluency!  Other service qualities, listed in “The Certified 6 Sigma Green Belt Handbook” (2) that MI customers might value include: responsiveness, reliability, competence, access (to the service), credibility, confidentiality, accuracy and completeness.

Demonstrating the value of Medical Information to managers and other decision makers in the Pharmaceutical Industry is, according to a 2008 European survey of Medical Information managers, one of the top challenges that teams face.  Janet Davies, Director of International Medical Information for Gilead Sciences, and co-chair of the DIA Medical Communications Special Interest Area Community, shared other challenges that MI teams face such as: managing headcount, including ensuring efficiency, and defining competencies and roles within the team; responding to the parent organisation’s need for a global approach with resultant reorganisations and outsourcing / off-shoring implications.  Each of these challenges also in fact offers opportunities for better understanding customer value.

Dialogues around role definition, with internal customers such as Medical Affairs and Brand Teams have been very beneficial within AstraZeneca. Richard Jones, Medical Information Manager, shared some video interviews with these internal customers which demonstrated how regular interactions have enabled a better understanding of how MI can really add value to them.

Many MI teams are looking at ways of taking a more global approach to how they deal with queries from external customers.  Aaron Cockell, European Medical Information Director at Pfizer, believes that having a central platform to record MI enquiries will be an invaluable source of customer insight that can be used to influence company strategy.  Companies are approaching globalisation in many different ways, and Claire Laville De Lacombe, Medical Knowledge Manager, Sanofi-Aventis, described a range of models that they use, which take account of local cultures and ways of working both for the MI staff, and for their customers.

As a final note on this theme, Bob Winslow, Global Director, Medical Information Drug Safety and Medical Affairs, Quintiles, described the questions that MI CROs (Clinical Research Organisations) would want answered to support parent organisations effectively; these would be similar questions to those that a parent company would want to know to ensure that they are effectively supporting their customers.

As many of the above approaches show, there are various ways to determine what MI customers value.  Surveys need not be the default approach, and indeed should be used wisely given the extra burden that they put on customers, and that they won’t necessarily produce the best quality feedback.  Regular dialogue with customers, and analysis of historical queries will produce high quality insights, without extra demands on the customer.  Requesting feedback as a follow-up to completed work can also be productive.  Kirsten Rohl, Senior Scientist Medical Information in Lilly, described a telephone ‘spot survey’ that they conduct soon after a query has been addressed to check for customer satisfaction.

If surveys are used, care should be taken to boost the response rate.  Marco Migliaccio, Head of Medical Communication & Information (Neurodegenerative Diseases) at Merck Serono, gave a powerful illustration of how reminders can achieve this.  Nancy Hijmans, System Support Specialist & Manager at Centocor, also demonstrated how response rates to repeated annual surveys can progressively decline, although they are still achieving the accepted norm of around 30%.  There may also be cultural issues affecting the willingness of individual countries to adopt customer satisfaction surveys as discovered by Charlotte Wormleighton, European Medical Information Director, AstraZeneca, during an internal audit of their affiliate locations.

However, surveys do have some advantages over other methods for obtaining customer feedback.  Marco Migliaccio described how his organisation uses them to validate ad hoc views, provide important data for management, and differentiate between those MI services that really add value to customers, as opposed to the ‘nice to haves’.

Finally, Andrew Williams nicely summarised what MI customers might value: the right information to the right patient at the right time (in the case of external customers); and a scientifically meaningful discussion about products (in the case of internal customers).  It would seem that Medical Information teams have a wealth of approaches at their disposal to corroborate and understand the finer detail of what constitutes value to their customers.

Notes

(1) The DIA (Drug Information Association, http://www.diahome.org) is a neutral, non-profit organisation with about 18,000 members worldwide whose primary concern is the discovery, development, regulation, surveillance and marketing of pharmaceutical and related products.  Its vision is to provide a universally respected forum for the quality exchange of information.  It includes SIACs (Special Interest Area Communities), one of which is Medical Communications.  This SIAC has held annual US workshops since 1989.  The European group kicked off with a 1-day track in 2006, and has had a dedicated track in the DIA Clinical Forum since 2007.

(2) The Certified 6 Sigma Green Belt Handbook. Roderich A Munro et al. ASQ (2008)

(3) This article focuses on the first of RiverRhee Consulting’s 4 main areas of expertise for enhancing team effectiveness for improved productivity and team morale:

  1. Focusing on your customers
  2. Simplifying and streamlining what you do
  3. Optimising information and knowledge assets
  4. Ensuring successful business change

Follow the links for more information about RiverRhee Consulting, and about principal consultant, Elisabeth Goodman.  To see a previous blog by the author relating to the DIA Clinical Forum follow this link here.