One rule for you, one rule for the rest…

Inspired by John Naughton.

Picture this – one dentist manages to lose one set of notes of one patient, who was one month old, who had made one visit to the practice as an emergency and treatment consisted of examination and parental reassurance. The notes are passed to a recognised third party for disposal but turn up on a patch of waste ground. The CQC and the GDC would be involved and that dentist would probably go through months of anxiety whilst it was decided how big the case was for them to answer.

Meanwhile…. “sometime between mid-May and July, Equifax was hacked via a security flaw in the Apache Struts software that it used to build its web applications. The flaw, which gave hackers an easy way to take control of sensitive sites, had been fixed on 6 March and patches were made available to every organisation that used Struts. That meant, as various commentators pointed out, that Equifax’s IT department had the tools to plug the security holeand two months in which to do it. For some reason, they didn’t.

As a result, the hackers were able to steal the personal information of 143 million Americans. It is the most important financial data available on any citizen – names, dates of birth, social security numbers, home addresses and in some instances a lot more, including credit card details of more than 200,000 US consumers (and some UK consumers). It’s everything you need to engage in identity theft on an epic scale. “On a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of risk to consumers,” said a fraud analyst at consultancy firm Gartner, “this is a 10.””….

…Equifax discovered the breach on 29 July, but didn’t reveal it publicly until 7 September, no doubt because the internal investigation was long and complex. During that period, however, three of its senior executives unloaded shares in the company valued at $1.8m. But this, apparently, was completely coincidental: the poor dears (who included the chief financial officer) were not aware that an intrusion had occurred when they sold their shares. 

…..if some poor unfortunate forgets to pay a library fine and then discovers that they can’t get a loan because a check on Equifax’s database reveals the payment lapse, well… that’s just tough. If you want to understand the populist revolt, then this is a good place to start.

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The Monday Morning Quote #442

“The solutions are all simple – after you have arrived at them.

But they’re simple only when you know already what they are.”

Robert M. Pirsig

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

The Monday Morning Quote #439

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

Peter Drucker

Read more here and here

The Monday Morning Quote #420

“If we can keep our competitors focused on us while we stay focused on the customer, ultimately we’ll turn out all right.”

Jeff Bezos

 

The Cost of Doing Nothing – in IT

From LRB comes Paul Taylor’s take on what has led up to the problems with NHS IT systems – the malware attack last Friday was a symptom of a far more complex and concerning issue.

Successive governments have spent billions without success. 

“There are no good news stories about computers and the NHS. The reporting of Friday’s malware attack may, however, be usefully different from the typical bad news story, in which hubristic politicians or nameless bureaucrats waste millions, if not billions, of public funds on projects which go over budget, fail to deliver, prove to be unusable or collapse under pressure. In this instance it seems that, for once, inaction and underinvestment have led to something sufficiently focused to be newsworthy, showing that there can be a political as well as a human cost to doing nothing.

For most of the 21st century, the story of NHS IT has been the slow unravelling of New Labour’s ambitions for the transformation of public services. In February 2002, Tony Blair committed his government to a programme that was supposed to take the NHS, in two years, from being largely paper-based to having a seamless IT architecture, enabling a new generation of consumer-friendly digital health services. The mistakes that were made in the pursuit of this vision, which became known as the National Programme for IT, have had devastating consequences for those whose care was supported by NHS IT systems over the last 15 years.

The government entered into huge contracts with large corporations that promised to supply systems they couldn’t engineer, and for which the NHS couldn’t specify the requirements…..”

Full article at LRB

Obsess Over Your Customers, Not Your Rivals

From HBR, worth a read and then asking yourself some questions….

The starting point of most competitive analysis is a question: Who is your competition? That’s because most companies view their competition as another brand, product, or service. But smart leaders and organizations go broader.

The question is not who your competition is but what it is. And the answer is this: Your competition is any and every obstacle your customers encounter along their journeys to solving the human, high-level problems your company exists to solve…..

….Sure, someone in your company needs to understand the marketplace: who your competition is, what other products are on the market, and how they are doing, at a basic level. But there’s a point at which paying attention to other companies and what they’re doing interferes with your team’s ability to immerse itself in the world of your consumer. Focusing on competitive products and companies often leads to “me-too” products, which purport to compete with or iterate on something that customers might not have liked much in the first place.

Conclusion:

  • First, rethink what you sell.
  • Next, rethink your customers.
  • Now, focus on their problems.

Read full article HERE

 

 

“Jeff, what does Day 2 look like?”

Another post via the essential Benedict Evans’ Newsletter. This is from Jeff Bezos‘ (Amazon founder & CEO) annual shareholder letter: “managing Amazon and change in a large company”. Well worth a read.

“Jeff, what does Day 2 look like?”

That’s a question I just got at our most recent all-hands meeting. I’ve been reminding people that it’s Day 1 for a couple of decades. I work in an Amazon building named Day 1, and when I moved buildings, I took the name with me. I spend time thinking about this topic.

“Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”

To be sure, this kind of decline would happen in extreme slow motion. An established company might harvest Day 2 for decades, but the final result would still come.

I’m interested in the question, how do you fend off Day 2? What are the techniques and tactics? How do you keep the vitality of Day 1, even inside a large organization?

Such a question can’t have a simple answer. There will be many elements, multiple paths, and many traps. I don’t know the whole answer, but I may know bits of it. Here’s a starter pack of essentials for Day 1 defense: customer obsession, a skeptical view of proxies, the eager adoption of external trends, and high-velocity decision making.

True Customer Obsession

There are many ways to center a business. You can be competitor focused, you can be product focused, you can be technology focused, you can be business model focused, and there are more. But in my view, obsessive customer focus is by far the most protective of Day 1 vitality.

Why? There are many advantages to a customer-centric approach, but here’s the big one: customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf. No customer ever asked Amazon to create the Prime membership program, but it sure turns out they wanted it, and I could give you many such examples.

Staying in Day 1 requires you to experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and double down when you see customer delight. A customer-obsessed culture best creates the conditions where all of that can happen.

Resist Proxies

As companies get larger and more complex, there’s a tendency to manage to proxies. This comes in many shapes and sizes, and it’s dangerous, subtle, and very Day 2.

A common example is process as proxy. Good process serves you so you can serve customers. But if you’re not watchful, the process can become the thing. This can happen very easily in large organizations. The process becomes the proxy for the result you want. You stop looking at outcomes and just make sure you’re doing the process right. Gulp. It’s not that rare to hear a junior leader defend a bad outcome with something like, “Well, we followed the process.” A more experienced leader will use it as an opportunity to investigate and improve the process. The process is not the thing. It’s always worth asking, do we own the process or does the process own us? In a Day 2 company, you might find it’s the second.

Another example: market research and customer surveys can become proxies for customers – something that’s especially dangerous when you’re inventing and designing products. “Fifty-five percent of beta testers report being satisfied with this feature. That is up from 47% in the first survey.” That’s hard to interpret and could unintentionally mislead…….

……..Good inventors and designers deeply understand their customer. They spend tremendous energy developing that intuition. They study and understand many anecdotes rather than only the averages you’ll find on surveys. They live with the design.

I’m not against beta testing or surveys. But you, the product or service owner, must understand the customer, have a vision, and love the offering. Then, beta testing and research can help you find your blind spots. A remarkable customer experience starts with heart, intuition, curiosity, play, guts, taste. You won’t find any of it in a survey.

In full HERE take the time and read the 1997 letter which follows it – makes interesting reading.

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