Like millions of others I was deeply saddened by Steve Job’s passing. I have read, viewed and listened to many documentaries, editorials, newscasts, blogs etc. about his life and achievements since. As a result I have been thinking seriously about the profound impact this one person had on our lives and our times. To say he was gifted and a visionary the likes of which we may not see but once or twice in a century sounds trite but it is true. One of the articles I liked most was The Legacy of Steve Jobs: 10 Innovation Lessons, by Don Reisinger . And so with due credit to Mr. Reisinger here is what Steve Jobs can teach us about shared services..
“Don’t Worry About the Cost”. Invest in the shared services infrastructure. This does not mean reckless spending. What it means is knowing when, for what and how much to spend. Things like a contact center to manage customer interactions, a business intelligence system to give you insights needed to run your business are fundamentals of shared services. They should be considered given costs without which you cannot do shared services or call yourself a shared services organization. And as Steve Jobs proved over the years, when you get these right the costs is just a footnote compared to the return.
“Give Customers What They Don’t Know They Want”. Shared services customers don’t know what they need until you show them. They want fast, reliable and cost effective services but it is your job to translate this desire into products and services. . “And then they won’t be able to live without it.”
“Don’t Be Afraid to Create New Markets”. Look for new ways to increase the shared services value proposition. ”
“Design Matters Most”. Your customer interfaces should reflect an understanding and commitment to usability. When your web site, applications, forms, processes etc. are as intuitive as the Iphone or Ipad, you’re there.
“It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint”. The journey to excellence is iterative. Each step, each innovation, each improvement forms the basis for the next step, next innovation, next improvement.
“Roll it Out Slowly”. There are a lot of ways to say this. Rapid development, agile thinking, not letting perfect become the enemy of good to name just a few. But what it boils down to is thinking of the perfect as tomorrow’s goal while concentrating on the good you can do today. Working on large scale projects that stretch into infinity instead of delivering workable components now is the main reason projects fail. Shared services is no exception.
“Strive to Do More Than Seems Possible”. Benchmark against the best then set about becoming the best. Government can be as efficient as industry. Your shared services organization can be best in class. All it takes is a vision, stamina and an actionable plan to get there.
“Every Last Detail Counts”. My personal motto. When the stakes are high enough no detail is too small to command your attention. You don’t have to do it all but you have to make sure it is all done, and done right. It is not the lack of vision or strategy that are barriers to excellence but the failure to execute.
“The Value of Surprise”. Timing and presentation are as important as product.
“Think You’re Better, Prove You’re Better”. Low expectations lead to low achievements. Aim high and even if you don’t hit the mark you will be further ahead than you would be if you had set your sights lower.