The Human Centered Design Podcast with Gerry Scullion

Marzia Aricò 'Service Measurement; Connecting (and measuring) the dots between zoom levels'

John Carter
November 18, 2022
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Marzia Aricò 'Service Measurement; Connecting (and measuring) the dots between zoom levels'

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Episode shownotes

Hello and welcome to This is HCD. Our goal is to have conversations that inspire and to help move the dial forward for organisations to become more human-centred in their approach to solving complex business and societal problems.

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In this episode I chat with Marzia Aricò, Design Director at Livework in London, and based in the stunning city of Rotterdam. We chat about service measurement - and some of the new work that Marzia and her colleagues at Livework have been working on to help move the dial forward for organisations in this space.

It’s a fantastic conversation and totally enjoyed connecting with Marzia - let’s jump in!

Episode Transcript

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[00:00:00] Have you ever heard of an organization? Then after those six months goes back saying, Hey, let's see whether the business case actually is proven to be. No one does that.

[00:00:12] Hello and welcome to this is hcd. Our goal is to have conversations that inspire and help move the dial forward for organizations to become more human centered in their approach to solve complex business and societal problems. Now, if you like, what we do at this is HC and wanna help us, there's a few things you can do to just get started.

[00:00:31] Number one, you can leave a review wherever you're listening to this podcast and it only takes a couple of minutes, but. The most important things you can do to show support. Number two, you can become a patron. You can get an ad free stream of the podcast for as little as one Euro 66 per month, and also get a shout out as the thanks on the podcast as well.

[00:00:50] There's other plans where you can get exclusive items too, and all the money goes directly to editing, hosting, and maintaining our website, which is now a repository for human-centered [00:01:00] design. Good. With over 220 episodes. In this episode, I chat with Marsia Argo, design Director live work in London, and based in the stunning city of Rotterdam, and we chat about service measurement and some of the work that Marzi and our colleagues at Live work have been doing to help move the dive forward for organizations in this space.

[00:01:19] It's a fantastic conversation and totally enjoyed connecting with Marsian. Let's jump straight in.

[00:01:27] I am delighted to have you here and welcome you to, this is h cd, um, longtime admirer. First time caller as you'd say. Um, but you know, maybe to kick off, tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and where you're from. Hello, Jerry. Um, I'm from ly. Yeah, the very south of Europe. Yeah. But I live in Rot.

[00:01:51] Netherlands. Wonderful. And tell us you, how would you describe what you do? Well, um, [00:02:00] I'm a, I'm incredibly passionate about design. This is what I've been doing for my entire career. Yeah. Um, I've been studying design practice in design in very different forms, and at the moment I'm design director liberal studio in London.

[00:02:16] Okay. And so what I do is, You know, working with clients, listening to challenges, coming up with, you know, ways to tackle those challenges that is somewhat future proof and design based. Design led. Yeah. Before we were chatting, like, cuz I haven't actually spoken to too many people and live work over the years.

[00:02:37] I think I might have one or two. Um. But you know, how you framed live work to me was kind of, was kind of a different and a very forward thinking approach to, to retaining identity. Um, I guess, would you mind discussing that a little bit more around, you know, the size of the practice and, you know, how, how the practice runs?

[00:02:59] Cause I think that could be [00:03:00] really interesting for the listeners. Yeah, sure. Um, so we have three studio set department, um, London brought in SA Paulo. We have chosen, uh, to keep the studios quite small. The London studios, about 25 people. , some Paul is a bit larger. Mm-hmm. . Um, and fundamentally that is a choice that we made a few years ago when we decided not to be acquired by any management consulting firm or large bank or slash tech companies slash you know, you name it.

[00:03:34] Um, because we want to. Be able to work on the things that interest us. We want to be able to do it in a timeframe that would deem reasonable. We don't wanna end up in a machine that pressures you to just deliver a 20% growth a year at whatever cost. We are a bunch of nerds. Love. We design, we, we just want to [00:04:00] make sure that we do projects that you know are meaningful for us when we can see impact and we want to be able to say no.

[00:04:06] We don't see that, but we don't see meaning, but we don't see the impact that we wanna see in the world. And if you become bigger then that size that I mentioned, that it becomes hard to do that. Cause you have to start taking whatever project comes to pay, basically salaries, right? Absolutely. So we tend to select our people quite carefully and to keep the team small and cohesive around our purpose.

[00:04:28] Basical. Absolutely. It sounds like it's sounds idyllic in, in many ways cuz we've obviously, we're all probably aware, many of the listeners are aware of the, the agencies that have kind of come and gone and have been absorbed by big organizations and, you know, after a couple of years they just dissolve and they become part of the bigger, the bigger beast or the bigger fish.

[00:04:49] So it's um, really rewarding to see. To see that kind of fight happening and that that fight to retain identity is super, uh, positive. Um, [00:05:00] so I know, look, I'm a big fan. I live work anyway. I have, I've been following live work for as long as I've been involved in service design, but today we're gonna be chatting a little bit more around service measurements and service performance, something that we connected about recently.

[00:05:15] Couple of weeks ago, maybe a couple of months ago, um, we were back and forth about it. Um, but you and a number of other peers in Livework have developed a new framework, is that right? Yeah, I think that's correct. Do you have a name for it? No. You haven't given measurement framework, measurement framework, is that, call it, you could call it new measurement framework.

[00:05:38] Yeah, we could do that. Nmf? . Nmf, which is quite similar to nps, but, uh, nmf. So the new measurement framework, which we, you folks, you've just witnessed, um, the naming of the new live work measurement framework. It's called nmf, um, highly. Contentious cuz it's, uh, you know, nmf [00:06:00] new measurement framework. But what, how does this separate itself?

[00:06:03] How does this distinguish itself against other, um, how should we say, metrics that are being used in organizations to measure services? We have taken an outside in service led perspective to this. Um, a lot of, you know, we have in our experience in the past 10 to 15 years, a lot of organizations. Came to us saying, Hey, um, we have this objective, we wanna be number one MP growth sector.

[00:06:31] And my, my answer is usually to what end? Mm-hmm. . Cause that is not in itself an outcome to achieve and then extreme focus in, in on mp. You know, MP in itself is, is not a bad thing, but you know, the way it has been using to really drive, um, behavior in organizations and, and, and strategy. Is not necessarily healthy.

[00:06:55] So what we have started doing is really engaging our clients in [00:07:00] a conversation about outcomes. What are the outcomes that you are really trying to achieve as a business? You know, what are you here to do? And it's not just a question about business, but also, you know, what are you trying to achieve for your customers and for operations and mo most recently we also have the sustainability, a fourth lens.

[00:07:15] Ok? It's a forcing thing. That discussion about outcomes and not metrics is, Has been proven for us and for our clients, a very illuminating one. Refreshing one because you really start using a language and a level of conversation that engages multiple stakeholders from different perspectives and really aligns around the thing that you do.

[00:07:37] Yeah. Um, and we try to anchor that. To a life cycle view. So an end to end view what customers are trying to achieve. Okay. So for any established service designers out there, they're probably bobbing along kind of saying, yeah, this, this is kind of what we've, we've been talking about for, for a long time.

[00:07:57] Having the, the life cycle view and, and have [00:08:00] an outcome at the end of it that's measurable. Do you mind if you take a step back though and and talk a little bit more around NPS and, cause I feel like if we're driving along a road here and we've just passed, you know, this big building called NPS that the world has been in love with and many of the organizations have been in love with, I.

[00:08:20] We should stop at least and take a photograph of what that looks like. So, um, maybe let's talk about, um, why do you believe organizations love nps and what does it give them, um, you know, as opposed to a score at the end of it. In terms of an, an emotional piece, what, what is attractive about NPS to organiz?

[00:08:43] In regionally, NMPS, the Net promoter score was invented as a way to measure our organizations generates relationships that are worthy of loyalty, right? Mm-hmm. . So it's a prediction for, for loyalty and [00:09:00]fundamentally, it, it will tell you how much. You can expect to sell more of that things, um, many new customers will have as well as, you know, how, you know, how likely the customer is to stay with you, which in itself is a very useful thing, I think.

[00:09:14] Yeah. And it's very simple. It's one question incredibly simple, right? Yeah. Uh, it's not a lengthy, complicated survey, so any simplicity is great. Um, and it's, uh, You know, uh, something that everyone understands and, and, and it's become, you know, a, a real driver for our conversations and, uh, and, uh, and, uh, you know, decision making.

[00:09:41] Yeah. But it's like the, the way I I describe NPS is like calories, calories on food. It's um, you know, you could have an apple that's 50 calories, um, or you could have a spoon of peanut butter that's also, uh, 50 calories. But like, there's different nutrients and there's different perspectives and there's [00:10:00] different, um, micronutrients is part of each one of those food types and.

[00:10:05] Am I right in saying like, um, and I'm, I'm kind of playing devil's advocate here cuz I know the answer already to this, but NPS gives an organization a level of reassurance that they can compare, um, you know, historically, okay, things are getting better. Oh, oh, things are getting worse. Is that really as simple as, as a view is that organizations are using NPS in terms of like, are we doing better?

[00:10:31] Are we doing. Yeah. How we doing better? Are we doing worse? Sure. They use it for that, but fundamentally, and, you know, for projections of revenue, but fundamentally the, the, the problem with that is that you don't have any understanding about the actual experience that you're offering to customers. And if things.

[00:10:49] Are going bad. If your NPS goes down, you have no clue why. Why exactly. So I've seen, um, some arguments about this online where, [00:11:00] you know, service design might be a new thing in your organization, um, and product management or whoever is installed or instilled NPS as a metric worth measuring in an organization.

[00:11:14] They don't have the power to change it and they kinda have to live with it and pick their battles. And one argument was to add an extra field where it's an open ended field and you can ask for some additional insights. Yeah. Some people are doing that. They do callbacks, right? They do callbacks and stuff with that to, to add a little bit more meat to the score.

[00:11:35] Is there anything else in your framework that you could sort of see, or in your experience, not even your nmf we'll get to that now in a minute. Nmf,

[00:11:46] it's, it's,

[00:11:52] it's that with, with nps. Okay. Um, if you, if you have [00:12:00] something like you wanna add to that conversation, An open-ended field, uh, at the end of your, uh, NPS survey, is there anything else that you can advise to people that they might be able to add to make it somewhat of a, a better transition maybe to have those conversations with the business about saying, Hey, listen, No, I, I, I don't have an answer to that.

[00:12:21] And, and I don't even wanna give an answer to that because I think it's just the whole concept, just supplementally broken. We're not gonna get that road folks, you wanna get that road, folks? You can listen to an episode of myself and Nick Coster from 2018 where we destroyed nbs. Anyway, read that anyway.

[00:12:40] Well, I destroyed nps. Nick defended NPS in that conversation a couple of years ago. But let's talk about the nmf, um, which again, folks, it's sticking. Um, so you said, you know, the full life cycle of measuring the outcome. Maybe talk to me about how you would sell this into an [00:13:00] organization about, you've got a new, um, measurement framework.

[00:13:04] How is it different? I mean, I usually start the conversation by asking in what way do they make decisions about where to invest money? Yeah. Like how do you decide the onboarding is, um, more valuable thing to invest into mm-hmm. than something else. Yeah. On the base world. Yeah. And usually, well, there is no answer to that cause there is no process.

[00:13:29] And usually the reality is, Some senior leader woke up, heard a client complaining about X or someone complaining about X, and then getting all very worried about the thing and started shouting that this thing needs to be fixed. Why can't you do it? And all of a sudden there are this, you know, millions movie woman side to the other.

[00:13:51] Absolutely. Is that thing on the base of non-existing business cases or business cases that are written on the base of [00:14:00] you? Pure imagination. And then, and then those business cases are never even reviewed again. So after you have written the business case, got the money to actually start the project, do you, have you ever heard of an organization then after those six months goes back saying, Hey, let's see whether the business case actually is proven to be right.

[00:14:20] Yeah. No one does that. No. Right. And it is crazy. Does me say that? It's crazy. It is crazy. So my question usually is, how do you make informed decisions? How can you decide that this thing is more valuable than this other one? Mm-hmm. . And the second question that I usually ask is, do you know how much revenue this specific service brings and how much it costs to delivery?

[00:14:45] Yeah, usually the answer is no, because organizations are not organized like that. They're organized around products that can tell you that about a product, but they cannot tell you that about a service. Tell that though. Maio about a product. About a product, yes, but about [00:15:00] a service that is a bit more difficult because there is no service owner, is it?

[00:15:06] That is a product owner. But a product is a service, isn't it? I don't agree with. You don't agree with it? No. Why do you say that? We're gonna have no, why do you say that? Why do you say that? Well, it's, it's, it's a conversation for another episode, I think, because you could easily go down that road. There's, there's two schools of thought in it, but we're gonna, we're gonna keep that one for a second episode, I think.

[00:15:28] I think there's, there's enough here to talk about a second episode. So your argument is that a product is a product and a service is a service. A product serves a service, and a service is served by multiple product. Yeah. So a product can be a service in itself, fine. I mean in this micro world, but fundamentally, if you have a service view of where you are delivering as an organization, a service will be supported by most products.

[00:15:53] Yeah. Okay. We're saying same thing. We are saying the same thing. Okay. We are saying the same thing. Uh, so we don't need a second episode. [00:16:00] We don't need a second episode. Okay. So that's usually my starting point. Starting point is how do you make decisions and do. How much money your service generates and how much money costs to deliver it.

[00:16:11] Absolutely. So usually the answer is now to all of those things. Yeah. So then my. Follow up is, let me show you something, , and then that's something usually you case with nmf, it's usually a service architecture, so I'm not even going to measurements yet. I'm going into the land of let's draw map of the services that you offer as an organization.

[00:16:39] Because in 15 years I've been working in this specific field, I've never seen an organizations that it's a. Of the services they offer to their customers, what are the services and now they connect to each other, and what are the journeys that supports those services? Do you have that in one picture?

[00:16:56] Yeah. Do you know what are the products that actually are [00:17:00] supporting those services? In one picture, the one picture usually doesn't exist. They usually have journeys, right? They have journeys, which I, for me, in my head, is level one, is a level one, right? But the picture that I'm talking about is higher than that.

[00:17:14] It's a level zero. It's like a higher level of obstruction. Yeah, a zoom day perspective. So we usually start building that picture of the architecture of the services that an organization delivers, and then in the base of that, then we start saying, okay, can we just on the base of this, start reflecting on what are the outcomes that you're trying to achieve?

[00:17:39] Usually it takes quite a long time and quite a lot of alignment cause different people in different pocket, a different view of it. So we'll start with a list of probably 20. And my usual, um, approach is to really push them to reduce that, a maximum total of nine. So what, what are the [00:18:00] actually top three from a customer perspective, from a business organiza perspective and an organiza, an operational per.

[00:18:06] The top three outcomes that you're trying to achieve. What is your focus? What is the energy of the organization? Then for sure there will be others, but you know, can we just focus on the most important things right now? And once we have agreed data and we have align around it, then we start looking for signals.

[00:18:22] What are the S that can tell you whether you're reaching those outcomes or not? And it doesn't have to be a metric here. It could be like an indicator. What is an indicator that can tell you whether you you're achieving that outcome or not? And then on the base of that, we start picking specific metrics and that one of these metrics could be very well yes, depending on the outcome that you're trying to achieve.

[00:18:41] But then you need to understand what that things is linked. Is linked to. And that link usually doesn't exist. Could it be linked to OKRs? Presumably? Yeah. Could be linked in to a million other things. Okay. And so if it's a metric that they are already measuring, [00:19:00] great. If it doesn't exist, we start measuring it.

[00:19:02] Yeah. So you're agnostic to the method of measurement really in the new measurement. F. You're, you are agnostic to, to whatever measurement tool. Yeah. Um, so it's, as long as it's clear what it's, as long as that's clear and I mean the, the most likely operational metrics that you're seeing being measured apart from, you know, cost, um, you know, reduction.

[00:19:37] Tell me what, what you're seeing there from an organizational perspective on the organizations that you've tested this with. From an operations perspective? Yeah, from an operational perspective, what are the things that they're lab resolution times, you know, head count, right? Those are. The exciting ones.

[00:19:52] The exciting ones. , I remember I was only recounting to a friend who was over for lunch and Friday, um, years and years [00:20:00] ago. I went to, uh, when I came home from Australia, actually had an interview in a consultancy not gonna be named, and I sat down and they're like, okay, so service design, talk to us, Jerry.

[00:20:09] And I go, okay, how would you make 12,000 people redundant with service design? Oh, fun. Yeah. And I went, okay. Well before we get into that conversation, I wanted to define service design because I think there might be a misalignment and understanding here. I said so um, and they were like, but actually there is a way to go about it because, to be honest with you, I mean okay, find it horror, but the reality is that through the service sun work, a lot of the time we really.

[00:20:34] Manage to uncover real efficiencies, right? Yeah. Duplication of work, people doing the same projects into different probably is, I mean, even the same role and people don't even know, right? I know what the problem is, but actually the question, um, like over the years I've really processed that question, I can say, where did it come from?

[00:20:58] Um, [00:21:00] so. I think there's probably, there was probably a little bit of a rationale to it. Um, but the effort to get to that point was, was far too greater than me wanting to get down that road, to be honest at the time. But my answer would be to what end? Right. I mean, I think that is the interesting thing. To what end do you wanna do that?

[00:21:18] What is the thing that you're trying to achieve here? Which is usually the exactly question that I ask when, you know, at the beginning of any, you know, they come with all of. Reduction of 15% of personnel or number one nps. To what end? Like what are you doing? Yeah. I mean, what are you here to do? To do, yeah.

[00:21:40] What you wanna do, unfortunately, because that is already a solution, right? Reduction of. Personnel of employees, it's already a solution in itself. So you're coming with a solution. Yeah. Their perspective was selling efficiency, um, and, you know, reducing head count was one way to do this and, and leveraging [00:22:00] technology.

[00:22:00] Um, it. It goes back to the lib work, you know, retaining their identity and taking on the work that they want to do. I was like at a huge, it was a juxtaposition on, on how I was seeing design at that time. I was like, well, that's not how I see it. Mm-hmm. , you know, I, I wanna see it at this. Um, but we, we deviate a little bit more, like, you know, so I wanna focus more on the, the new management framework or new measurement framework.

[00:22:24] Um, you can see called. Nmf nmf, um, which I'm, I'm really starting to like folks. I've just bought the domain new measurement , I'm joking. Um, so for an organization that's say low mature, okay. Cuz if they're, if they're so rigid and they're using NPS as. They're kind of the golden egg, you know?

[00:22:51] It's, it's the, it's the thing that's giving them whatever they want, um, because they can interpret the data in whatever way they look at it. They can, and they're maybe not mature [00:23:00] enough to be able to push design, push a design kind of approach to solving this. What, what skills do they need or what personnel do they need in your experience to kind of move the conversation forward to question.

[00:23:16] That and, and start introducing the Nmf . I mean, cuz that's the big thing. There's people listening here and say, well, my organization would never Yeah. And that, that's, that's the conversation and design that I'm, I'm really interested about because, um, you know, what, what you measure is, is it, is it sort of a, a direct indicator of how you value the customer relationship and the customer experience?

[00:23:43] And too often we're, we're too stuck in the weeds and we're just fixing buttons, and we're not looking at the actual structural thing of the ecosystem. And there, that's where we need to have the conversations up, up there. And, um, really [00:24:00] providing the visibility of how everything is hanging together and you know, how much it's costing and what's it giving us and why we're doing these things and decision making frameworks and these kind of pieces like, you know, but what do you say to those people who are in that situation?

[00:24:14] They're in that boat at the moment and they've got you. An old schooled person who's still looking at the NPS score smiling every month. Yeah. I wouldn't really focus on the NPS and not start from there. I mean, I think the, the very measurement conversation, and this is where I was trying to get to my story, where do you start?

[00:24:38] It will come when the moment is right. But I wouldn't, I wouldn't start from, from that. I wouldn't start a conversation from mps, let's change nmps because everyone, no one would listen. Why would they? No. Cause you're all told they're stupid. You're, you're effectively saying you're all stupid and, and you know, you read McKinzie, you will learn than half of the Foote 500 probably is even more than that.

[00:24:59] [00:25:00] They're all using it. So why not? It's a best practice. Yeah. And they can point to that. You. So I, it's not a battle that you can fight. Not at that stage, you know? Yeah. And it's a question, creating a journey, a journey, a trajectory towards that moment, another conversation, A separate conversation. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:25:17] It's really, it's literally a trajectory that, that requires, you know, what are the things that need to be true in order for me to have that conversation. Mm-hmm. . And, uh, also, you know, you can start small. Mm-hmm. , I said, you know, Start service architecture, higher level of abstraction, but you can do exactly the same thing at a journey level.

[00:25:40] Yeah. At a way lower level of obstruction and start really proving how in a very smaller scale, How something like this could work out while the organization, you know, because the reality is that a lot of these people, like designers, you see practitioners, you know, they try to re-engineer the plane while, while it's on [00:26:00] flight, you know?

[00:26:01] And that's a very hard job to do. Yeah. And you cannot do it all at once. Because you're gonna crush, you know, so you have to do it in pockets. It sounds in some ways, um, and I mean this in a compliment, uh, cuz you know, mark stick torn as a, as a framework called Journey Map operations, where it looks at the various levels of Zoom and how they're interconnected and you've got the sub journeys and stuff like that.

[00:26:26] Um, and it's a management framework. It sounds. Like, um, yours is a step after that. And like, journey map operations is a fantastic way to get that visibility. And then the NMF could come in after that and um Okay. Get, but I also love the movement that you had when you say that. Well, I'm trying to sell it.

[00:26:47] It's, I'm trying, I'm trying to really get it in there, like, as if it's, you know, wedging itself into the conversation. So the NMF is, It's something that comes after that. Like, cuz [00:27:00] if anyone hasn't seen Mark stick do's, journey map operations, um, you know, do check it out. Um, you know, it's a, it's a great course, but it's also, it's a really solid foundational principle way of, of looking at services in terms of the, the various zoom levels because, People get nosebleeds when they get at zoom level one or zoom level two and they're like, wow, okay, this is amazing.

[00:27:23] But I think the, this agnostic, um, approach could be something that is really interesting to people who've maybe taken that course, who've seen Marks journey map, operations framework, um, And it could be a really nice thing to, to introduce. So like maybe after this conversation I'll, I'll connect both ears to continue this conversation.

[00:27:42] Um, nice. Yeah. But I think, um, overall, if people want to read more of or find out more about nmf, how might they do it? Mar you. Well, Livework website, we have a, see it's up there. It's up the blog. [00:28:00] Is it the Livework blog? Um, yes, there are some, a few articles on it. Uh, on the website. Um, or just send me a LinkedIn.

[00:28:10] You're on LinkedIn, so your LinkedIn would be the show notes. Okay. And people can connect with you directly. Can connect with me directly. And I'm sure all our listeners are probably kind of nodding along, saying, I'd like to hear more of Marsia. So maybe we'll have a, we'll have another chat at another point about other topics because I've thoroughly enjoyed you giving me your energy and your insight and your openness about all things service measurement.

[00:28:34] So thanks so much for your time today, Marsian. Well, thank you. It was real.

[00:28:42] And there you go folks. I hope you enjoyed that episode, and if you enjoyed it and want to listen to more, why not visit? This is hate where you can learn more about what we are up to and also explore our courses while you're there, thanks again for listening.

John Carter
Tech Vlogger & YouTuber

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