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Consortium for Service Innovation

Principles for an Adaptive Organization

These four principles are critical enablers of organizational transformation and are the basis for the Consortium for Service Innovation's work.

How do we improve our customers' experience, productivity, and success while improving the efficiency and effectiveness of those who interact with our customers?  This has been the focus of the Members of the Consortium for Service Innovation since 1992. In developing methodologies to answer this question, the Members have identified four principles that are the basis of the Consortium's work. As organizations strive to become more agile and adaptive, these four principles prove to be prerequisites for organizational transformation.

Overview of the Four Principles

four-principles.pngThe degree to which organizations embrace these four principles influences the level of success, realized benefits, and sustainability of each of the Consortium's methodologies.

The Consortium's work started with a focus on knowledge capture and reuse, which resulted in a methodology called Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS).  KCS has become an industry best practice. The focus of the Consortium's work has expanded beyond KCS to include:

  • Optimized collaboration: a system called Intelligent Swarming   
  • The ability to provide customers with information that they would value but don't know to ask for and the ability to analyze and take action using automation through Predictive Customer Engagement 
  • Models to maximize customer realized value and success, described in the Customer Experience Initiative
  • A Leadership Framework for service excellence

We have learned that if we want dramatically different results we have to do something dramatically different. There are no shortcuts.

The Consortium methodologies introduce a dramatically different way to think about and manage people, knowledge, and collaboration in an environment that is focused on organizational efficiency and customer success. The Consortium's methodologies are transformational and, depending on how well the organization embraces these four principles, create tremendous benefits for the organization, employees, and customers. 

Implementing these methodologies creates an Adaptive Organization.

The goal of the Adaptive Organization

  • is to quickly recognize and adjust to opportunities and changes in the environment

Which leads to:

  • engaged loyal customers, increased customer productivity and success
  • engaged loyal employees, optimal use of employee skills, and rapid employee skills development

Which in turn will:

  • maximize profitability by creating relevant interactions and offerings as well as improving retention, referenceability, and growth. 

The transformation to an Adaptive Organization starts with an understanding of the underlying organizational beliefs, and if necessary, moving away from beliefs that no longer serve us.  

Beliefs must shift... From  To  Because
Trust Designing organizational structures, processes, and measures from the belief that employees add risk to decision making, and need to be told what to do. Designing organizational structures, processes, and measures from the belief that employees are capable of good judgments and decisions, and that employees are the assets that create value. A high degree of trust in employees leads to a high degree of employee engagement, which enables an excellent customer experience.
Create Value A belief that employees only need to understand the tasks or activities they are assigned. A focus on assigning individual "credit" based solely on activities that can be counted.   A belief that employees will do better work when they understand the purpose, mission, values, and brand promise of the organization. A focus on what needs to be done in the context of why. A focus on outcomes and team performance. Understanding why promotes better decisions, enables creativity, and results in better outcomes. Value realization is about having a positive impact on those we serve, not about how we measure ourselves.   
Demand-Driven A linear, production line, command-and-control mentality.  Relying on rigid, standardized processes to approach any problem, regardless of the nature of the situation. An understanding that we are part of a system that we can influence, but cannot control. An appreciation for the dynamic networks in play, and using the appropriate approach based on the situation.  In the face of ever-increasing change and complexity, a sense-and-respond model is more efficient and agile, and can be leveraged to improve the relevance of offerings. 
Abundance Allowing the scarcity of time and money to dictate a scarcity model in all situations.  Recognizing when an abundance model is more appropriate and effective (in situations such as knowledge, relationships, and reputation). Competition for things that could operate under a model of abundance severely stifles collaboration and creativity.  Learning, growth, teamwork, and recognition thrive in an environment of abundance.   

While these four principles are interconnected and support each other, trust is the keystone. If trust is not present in the environment, the benefit of embracing the other three principles is greatly diminished.

A Note on Structure

methodology structureTo describe the various methodologies in development by the Consortium, we have found a Principle-based structure to be helpful.

In this structure, the Techniques, Practices, and Core Concepts are specific to each methodology. However, the four Principles are the same and are the foundation of each of the methodologies.

  • Techniques = how
  • Practices = what
  • Core Concepts = themes, characteristics
  • Principles = beliefs, philosophy

As the Consortium methodologies mature, they are published in a Practices Guide that defines the Core Concepts, Practices, and Techniques specific to the methodology. 

The following sections of this document provide a detailed description of the four principles.

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Principles For An Adaptive Organization by Consortium for Service Innovation is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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