April 2014

Never let the customer see into the kitchen. It ruins the magic.

The small differences that make the difference


A few weekends ago, I spent some time catching up with some friends I hadn’t seen for a while.  After spending an enjoyable few hours chatting and drinking coffee, we decided to continue catching up whilst grabbing some food at a local restaurant.  It was a busy Saturday afternoon, and we were worried that the restaurant might be full–but the waiter was extremely helpful and quickly found us a table.  As he seated us he apologised that the table was really near to the kitchen door, and it might be a little noisy.  This didn’t really bother us – we were happy chatting and generally catching up.


Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever sat right next to the kitchen door at a busy restaurant, but it’s quite an interesting experience.  Every time the door opened, I could hear orders being shouted.   The head waiter seemed to be doing an impression of Gordon Ramsey, barking orders across the kitchen which were then relayed by the chef with equal gusto.   I heard everything – how previous customers had received the wrong meals, how table 29 were still waiting for their drinks order—and how one of the other waiting staff just “wasn’t up to the job” in their opinion.   I learned about their booking process, that they hadn’t ordered enough of one particular ingredient and that they were running out of house wine.  I have to say it somewhat spoiled the magic.  A potentially fun experience was made less-then-acceptable by seeing too much of the ‘behind the scenes’ detail.  It would be a bit like seeing a mall worker in a Santa outfit take off his beard and light up a cigarette as he opens the door to a 1980s rusting estate car.  Some things should just be hidden from public view.


It’s not just about kitchens or Santas…

Tips for forming a CBAP/CCBA study group  

Business person standing in front of black-board with arrows pointing in conflicting directionsIt seems that more and more people are becoming interested in IIBA’s CBAP and CCBA certification.  Many teams combine formal training with self-study to maximise their chances of passing the exam first time.  This is an excellent idea, as forming a CBAP/CCBA Study group can be a great way of  getting people together to share knowledge.  It will help you keep up the momentum as you head towards the exam, and will also provide you with the forum to discuss any queries that you have.  In fact, I was part of a study group and this really helped me feel more confident when sitting my CBAP exam!


The challenge can be knowing how and where to start.  If you’re considering forming and running a study group in your organisation or BA community, you might find the following tips helpful:


How to form a study group


Insight for change: Cultivate your company’s complaints

Acorn sproutingIt’s never a pleasant subject, but chances are whether you work for a small, a mid-size or large company, your organisation probably receives and deals with complaints. Even the most careful and credible of organisations is likely to receive a complaint now and again, and organisations are often (quite rightly) keen to ensure they are resolved well.  In fact, you may well have a specialist team of complaints handlers who carefully pore over each case and ensure that the customer gets a fair outcome.


We often hear complaints referred to as an opportunity.   There’s a school of thought that handling a complaint well can increase customer loyalty.  Whilst this is an important consideration, there is another opportunity for us too.  It’s possible that we could use our complaints and complaints data to inform customer insight. Or, put differently, there could be advantages to using customer complaints as a catalyst for systemic change.  We could use complaints as one element of insight into what works and doesn’t work when we are thinking of kicking off business change initiatives.  On projects, we could use complaints and complaint data to predict potential customer and user needs and requirements by understanding what doesn’t currently work—before we validate this from other sources.  This could be another extremely useful aspect for us to consider when conducting business analysis.


This probably sounds rather abstract, so let me give you an example: