Unpacking the Language

Customer focused, value driven

‘Customer focused, value driven’ is shorthand (jargon in the positive sense) for a mind-set, and actions arising, which look to maximise the benefits of, and minimise the efforts in, the work we do. With the goal being to make UCD a better place to teach, research, learn and work, we recognise that as members of the UCD community we are all providers of services, we are all customers of colleagues.

'Customer focused' means working on the basis of what is needed by the ‘customer’, whoever they happen to be, and looking at how best to work with colleagues in meeting this need. The alternative is to work on the basis of what ‘we’ need, whoever ‘we’ happen to be, and look to bring change from our focus alone, an approach which tends to make the future simply an iterative version of the present - the inspiartion of the 'other' is missing.

'Value driven' process enhancement means the initial thinking in any situation is about values, about what you really care about and what is really important. Identifying and understanding the full set of values in play forms the basis for considering the process and for informed decision making on changes to it.

The opposite of value driven is 'alternate based', where the first focus is on deciding between alternate ‘hows’. You will know this is what is happening if you find yourself at a meeting discussing the details of an interesting project but nobody seems to be able to clearly explain the ‘who’ that will benefit from all this work, 'how' this benefit has been established clearly, and ‘why’ the effort is worth it.

Discussing ‘how’ is easier than discussing ‘who’ and ‘why’.

Customer focused, value driven thinking helps in three major ways: to recognize and identify opportunities, to create better alternatives, and to develop an enduring set of guiding principles. These principles are the mind-set we work out of and develop over time through experience and reflection.

Effective V Efficient

The difference between efficiency and effectiveness? In Ireland we have an efficient system for getting a motor tax disc for our car, in the UK they have motor tax but no disc, and in France no motor tax. The first question asked should be “why do we need a tax disc” not “how can we best produce a tax disc”. If we just focused on efficiency (making tax discs) we would have lots of great processes without necessarily questioning their underlying effectiveness (why we need a tax disc). Lean 6 Sigma helps us ask both questions when looking at an area – what are we trying to achieve overall and what is the most effective and efficient way to achieve it.

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