Excellent work by the ‘squire to the giants’ about a 1978 piece on ‘service systems thinking’ which is so… unsystemic… it is amazing – and explains so much.
Service designers, using the concept of ‘front-of-house’ and ‘backstage’, take heed!
“…the less direct contact the customer has with the service system, the greater the potential of the system to operate at peak efficiency…”
I’ve read a number of John Seddon’s books over the years and they are ‘sprinkled’ with critiques of a range of conventional management ‘fads and fashions’. One of his key critiques is of a particular 1978 HBR article written by a Richard B. Chase, titled ‘Where does the customer fit in a service operation?’
The article title sounds relatively innocuous, but Seddon puts it forward as having been a catalyst for the splitting up of service systems into ‘front office – back office’ functions…because it will (according to Chase) make them much more efficient.
Now, whilst (I believe that) I’ve understood Seddon’s critique of the splitting up of service systems into a myriad of (supposedly) specialised components…and the hugely damaging sub-optimisation that this has caused1, I was never quite sure as to the level of ‘blame’2 that could be levelled at Chase’s article – mainly because I…
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