Observe Directly: how to avoid the “watermelon effect”

Observe Directly: how to avoid the “watermelon effect”

The discrepancy between reports and reality is something that I see frequently within organizations because, as the animation below explores, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are often developed without proper consideration and understanding of the reasons behind the measure.

Regularly metrics and measures are used for the sake of it. But worse still is the use of KPIs that actually create undesired behaviours. These KPIs, and the unwavering drive to meet them, can have negative consequences. For example, on the service desk many organizations focus on the length of a call or the time to pick up the phone: these are not quality metrics and do not encourage customer focused outcomes.

More than metrics

It’s important to remember that there’s more to service management than metrics. Businesses need to ask: “why are we measuring this and what’s the purpose?”

Marcel FoedererTo be effective, metrics must be aligned with the corporate mission and objectives, and if you can’t explain the relationship, it’s no good. To develop these measures, those creating them must be observing directly.

In many organizations, managers are tempted to stay safe in the comfort of their office and, in doing this, they aren’t on the front line where things happen. This leads to an old-school management style where managers know (or think they know) what’s needed and give direction. Yet what’s needed is a more coaching and facilitating style as those doing the work know much better how to do their job.

As the film shows, by getting out of the office and seeing what’s really happening, managers get a clearer sense of the direction of a project and can support it appropriately. They’ll know what’s going on, recognize if work is off track and can then intervene where needed.

Avoiding the watermelon

By observing directly, managers can also ensure they focus on the right things for the customer. Often IT organizations analyze their own performance rather than what’s key for the client, which leads to a conflicting picture of success.

As the animation describes, this “watermelon effect” can be very damaging to provider/customer relationships and, in particular, it erodes trust.

To avoid the watermelon effect, IT providers should Observe Directly but also use the other ITIL® Practitioner principles. Providers, for example, must Focus on Value to make a real difference to the organization; Work Holistically with the whole picture in mind, and use Start Where You Are to prioritize the things that can be improved easily.

In essence, to avoid the watermelon effect that we see in the animation, providers and customers must work together as a team and take responsibility for realizing value – and that can’t be done by managing from a separate room.

See more blogs and animations about the ITIL Practitioner Guiding Principles

Why transformation projects go wrong unless you Work Holistically

Them vs us: the importance of Collaboration

ITIL® Practitioner - why it's always important to Keep It Simple

ITIL® Practitioner - Be Transparent

ITIL® Practitioner - Focus on Value

The past and the present: why it's always important to Start Where You Are

ITIL® Practitioner - Design for Experience

Read previous AXELOS Blogs from Marcel

Why a service mindset is essential in 2016

ITIL Practitioner: the new stand-out certification

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ITIL Practitioner Guidance

ITIL® Practitioner Guide

The ITIL Practitioner Guidance accompanies the qualification and provides a practical guide to putting ITIL theory into practice.

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