Processes for new service development – Good or bad?

Development processes could be both a good and bad instrument. My experience is that just the talk and existence of processes makes many people worried to be slaves under work methods and that the joy to do the work and to innovate new work methods get lost. Another argument is loss of flexibility. Adding processes and especially interleaved processes could create a monster to maintain and if the processes are owned and maintained by people not working with the core business a pseudo world is created with its own people and theoretically problems such as handshaking of deliverables, synchronization of checkpoints and flowcharts. My experience is that this is the point where the whole point is lost with processes. I have met colleagues working theoretically with process development who were not willing to deal with the “ugly reality” and just strive to create a theoretically consistent framework of processes.

I believe in processes and that they are needed to create a common view of best practices. It also creates the base for improvements. There is a say “if you don’t know how it is done, how can you then improve?”

Below some thoughts of how I would like to implement a service development process:

  • I have a firm belief that processes must be built bottom up. Informal leaders involved in the core business should be given the responsibility to describe the process and be a “keeper of good practices” and influence the practical work.
  • By definition a process should describe frequent performed tasks and I can imagine that service development is more situation specific than product development because it is co-created with a customer. I would therefore pay attention to keep the process at a high level giving room for flexibility and customer adoptions.
  • The development process should be co-created with an innovative and open minded customer. Inspired by Lars Witell and the video role of the customer in new service development this method could perhaps also bring innovative development processes during the development of the actual service offering.
  • The leadership is important when introducing a new process. I would work with people mindset to remove the fear to become slaves under a process. People who do the actual job must be involved in the process work. To be invited, involved and be able to affect leads to engagement and responsibility. This is the fundamental drivers for continous improvements.

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