“Humans tend to read things as events rather than an outcome of a system that can be predicted.” – Donella Meadows
Let’s consider a scenario where an unexpected surge in traffic leads to a system outage. While it may appear caused by a single customer or a small group, deeper analysis often reveals a more complex story:
Mismatched Customer Fit: Selling products to customers that don’t align with your target market
Invisible Commitments: Concessions are made to secure the business without consulting relevant teams like product and engineering.
Altered Priorities: Planned work is then shifted to accommodate commitments, frustrating existing customers who are waiting on committed new features.
Increased Workload: Changing directions creates more work in progress, and with more work in progress comes more bugs. More is demanded of customer support, and implementations take longer than expected.
Customer Churn: Dissatisfied existing customers leave, causing reference scarcity for sales
The Cycle Persists: Reduced sales breed greater desperation, resulting in compromises to secure new business, exacerbating issues throughout the organization.
In the near term, boosting capacity might seem like the logical remedy. However, a more holistic approach involves examining the entire system and implementing necessary changes to prevent the issue from repeating. For instance, we might recommend the following changes in light of what we learned in our review:
1. Add Sales Engineers (SE) to the Sales Process: SEs work directly with sales and prospects to ensure the solution is a good fit.
2. Approval Checks: All non-standard contracts require sign-off by product and engineering
3. Prioritization Change Review: All changes to near-term priorities require the approval of a cross-functional group, made up of sales, product, engineering, and customer support.
When you look at your company like a series of interconnected pieces, you’ll see that problems aren’t usually random occurrences, but rather they’re clues to a bigger puzzle. To solve it, you need to find the hidden links and fine-tune the entire system, not just where the problem surfaced.
“Every system is perfectly designed to get the result that it does.” – W. Edwards Deming
Want to learn more? Reach out to Scott Barstow.