LSD Lean

In product design, there are two thoughts of design. One, the efficient development of products that solve problems for people, and the other is to make products more appealing. Services were not designed but “grew and evolved” to sell a product. Many of us believe that all we need to do is create better, more innovative products, the Apple mystic? Can we stay ahead of competition by products alone? Or even with products in general? The product continues to be the primary focus of business.

We have used Lean to make products that are easy to use, manufacture and make money with. Manufacturing is shrinking, and services have become the dominant force of business. Many companies are defined by their services, versus their product. There is a need for organizations to differentiate through service quality and customer experience. However, we still market services in much the same manner as we do products, through features and benefits.

Most Lean Managers lack the aesthetic quality of designers. Most Designers lack the metric driven approach of Lean. Many Service applications are not profitable. The objective of Lean Service Design is to design services as profitable entities or business operating models.

Develop a Service Product? We typically think of Service as a verb or an activity that is consumed by our customers. We think of Service in forms of organizational functions such as Engineering, Purchasing, Shipping, Marketing, Accounting, IT, Human Resources. When we set out to improve one of these functions, we look at how we do the work. We focus on our own activity.

Look at how Lean defines the waste in service:

From Wikipedia: The original seven wastes (Muda (Japanese term)) were defined by Taiichi Ohno, the father of the Toyota Production System. These wastes have been often been redefined to better fit new organizations, industries, or external pressures.

One redefinition of these wastes for service operations by Bicheno and Holweg (2009) is as follows:

1. Delay on the part of customers waiting for service, for delivery, in queues, for response, not arriving as promised. The customer’s time may seem free to the provider, but when she takes custom elsewhere the pain begins.

2. Duplication. Having to re-enter data, repeat details on forms, copy information across, answer queries from several sources within the same organization.

3. Unnecessary Movement. Queuing several times, lack of one-stop, poor ergonomics in the service encounter.

4. Unclear communication, and the wastes of seeking clarification, confusion over product or service use, wasting time finding a location that may result in misuse or duplication.

5. Incorrect inventory. Being out-of-stock, unable to get exactly what was required, substitute products or services.

6. An opportunity lost to retain or win customers, a failure to establish rapport, ignoring customers, unfriendliness, and rudeness.

7. Errors in the service transaction, product defects in the product-service bundle, lost or damaged goods.

While attacking services from this viewpoint is maybe productive and worthwhile, it totally misses the point in design. If we intend to make services profitable, we must accept that customers do not care how we do our work. They might not even care that we are incompetent at certain functions (we will talk more about this in greater detail). The carryover of product thinking that better, faster, cheaper wins is a total misnomer. Improvement for the sake of improvement is totally wasteful. The focus on our own activity encourages internal thinking and misplaces our priorities.

Customers do want us to provide a service to help them achieve a desired outcome. Our first step in the journey is to stop thinking about services as an activity. We will start with where we are comfortable. Thinking of services as products or deliverables. This will create service products, that are countable, occur in discrete units, have names we can make plural (with an s) and often occur as some form of packaged information. There are two types: manufactured products and knowledge/service products. General types of service products include but are not limited to the following:

Plans Procedures Courses
Referrals Reservations Exhibits
Processes Presentations Systems
Reports Recipes Consultations
Repairs Greetings Diagrams
Designs Deliveries Meetings
Answers Contracts Schedules
Manuals Diagnoses Programs
Strategies Orders Transactions
Financial Statements Specifications Audits

These should be organized by department.

Identification of the service product is the first step for creating a Lean Service Design.

Use this worksheet to identify Service Products. You will:

  1. Name the service/product groups of your department/organization:
  2. Narrow that number to seven that you are most familiar with or create yourself.

After completing worksheet, check your work: Do you answer yes to the following questions?

This exercise is derived from the book Creating a Customer-Centered Culture, and the following is the author’s explanation on how to check your work. If you answer yes to any of the following, you have not created a service product.

Is these Service Products (SP) something only you or your immediate work group can claim as yours? For example, a service product name of policy or plan isn’t specific enough to claim ownership. Such labels represent whole classes of service products (SP). There are probably others who would also claim these SP as theirs.

Can you make the SP plural? If the label you wrote is followed by “—ing,” it is an activity, not a SP product. The SP is the tangible deliverable that is created by activity. Results like satisfaction, assurance, and security also are not service products. They are outcomes (intangible results or conditions) obtained by using the SP.

Does the SP, as named, occur in countable units? Information can only be considered as a SP by the various forms it takes. Reports, graphs, answers, proposals, plans, and manuals are examples of information products. Information is raw material, delivered to others in some organized or packaged form.

Is the Service Product intended to mate a desired outcome or result for a customer? Satisfaction, security, fun, profit, productivity, and knowledge are outcomes your SP might create. Some people confuse outcomes with the SP itself. Direction and leadership are sometimes used by leaders of the organization. The true SP are policies, plans, and strategies which, when used by others, propel the organization in a desired direction. These types of SP are more complicated than the others, and for the moment I would stay away from using them. Leadership is a skill or outcome, not a SP.

Complete the Sheet and go to the next page; Lean/Train.



p style=”text-align: left;” align=”center”>Recommended Reading/Listening

Value Enhancement



Future of Lean



Lean Thinking in Offices and Services



Defining the Roles of Lean IT