Stuck in the Muda Again…

If we agree that all value originates outside the enterprise (i.e., Drucker), then the most important value stream is the customer journey value stream. And as that leads us to dive deep into the process river searching for ‘no-value-added activities’ we should be mindful about getting stuck in the ‘Muda ’ all over again.

Stuck in the Muda again…

Muda is a Japanese word meaning “futility; uselessness; wastefulness”, and is a key concept in lean process thinking


While the focus on experience level agreements and value streams gets us aligned with external customers, and a wealth of guidance from practice frameworks help us pinpoint potential improvements, these are sometimes worlds apart.

No question about it, the need to accelerate flow is business-critical — accelerated ‘concept-to-product’ in the digital world is important. Movements like DevOps and CI/CD are happening for good reasons; every business wants to accelerate the time between “Ah-Ha!” and “Ka-Ching!”.

However, the rush to accelerate flow and spew out hundreds of new features is not necessarily what your customers may want. Often their basic desires are much simpler, and in fact our frantic desire to find ‘Muda’ often leads us back to inside-out thinking. The ITIL 4 guidance and things like experience level agreements are doing good things to help us avoid that.

Indeed, ITIL v4’s approach is to leverage the 4 dimensions (organizations & people, information & technology, partners & suppliers) along with value streams and processes to get a holistic view of service delivery.

While we can quickly adopt industry best practice frameworks, adapting them to ever-changing internal and external customer requirements is not so simple. This is partly because the who (people) and how (tools) are often tightly woven into a practice, which are ways of performing tasks in actual situations.

In addition, weaving partners and suppliers into the mix quickly gets even more complicated as we expand service ecosystems across internal and external service providers.

What happens is an endless game of chasing redundancy and waste (Muda). As our internal and external providers seek to improve — and change who and how they work— it forces change at higher levels of ‘process’ precisely because the who and the how are tightly woven into practice (the what).

Establishing a unified service management method can compliment your existing investments in practice frameworks by de-coupling the who (people) and how (work instructions/tooling) from what must be done as well as by providing a unified definition of a service for any internal or external provider.

In fact, it’s simple, cost-effective, as well as easy to learn and use by all stakeholders in the enterprise. By establishing 5 processes and 8 workflows for any service, providers can tailor procedures (who) and work instructions (how) without having to change the heart of the process (what).

The USM Method can be used for assessing the management system of a service provider, improving the management system of a service provider (i.e., an organization or team), determining outsourcing of tasks, and/or testing against external requirements/standards (i.e., audit).

Don’t stay stuck in the Muda.

Published by myservicemonitor

I am an independent service management consultant with two decades of experience helping customers.

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