The importance of making it simple for staff

Tesco, a UK supermarket chain has 3 rules for innovation:

The first is that innovation must in some way be better for customers; second is that it should ultimately prove cheaper for Tesco; and, finally, the innovation must make things simpler for staff.

Innovators within Tesco are made accountable for simplicity — and this does not mean training staff which can in fact perpetuate complexity. Nor does “usability” and “human factors” solve the problem as they evaluate but do not generate simple innovations that staff can execute. So how do Tesco deliver on their simplicity ethos? They make their people accountable for it.

Accountability means that someone has sat down with the process owner or appropriate business team leaders and asked, “What does ‘simple for staff’ mean and how do we measure it?”

Pick whatever measures of effectiveness you like — time, number of steps, rework, etc. — but doesn’t “simpler for staff” deserve respect comparable to “better for customers” and “cheaper for the firm”? After all, those get measured.

Implications for service design

Can you apply the Tesco heuristics to your concepts? Do your strategies and concepts present improvements for customers, productivity for the business and simplicity for staff?

Read the complete report at blogs.hbr.org

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