New study by Amadeus Global Operations urges travel firms to adopt ‘lean thinking’ or risk being left behind

Collaboration with Lloyd Parry Consulting delivers benchmark report ‘Cleared for Takeoff’

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 9.44.28 AMThe Global Operations arm of travel IT group Amadeus has launched a new report calling on companies in the travel industry to adopt ‘lean thinking’ models to ensure the delivery of true customer value.

Following a period of extensive collaboration with Lloyd Parry Consulting, the report calls for a fundamental shift in mindset so that travel companies can build a culture which responds adequately to customers’ increasingly complex needs.

In the report, Amadeus Global Operations Executive Vice President Wolfgang Krips calls for a fundamental shift in management style:

“Lean is about centering all thoughts and actions on the customer. It is no longer about directing people as in a classic command-and-control production model, but rather about nurturing proactivity and reactivity to leverage the organisation’s brainpower.”

Quoted widely in the report, Lloyd Parry Consulting’s Stephen Parry, one of its driving forces, emphasises the importance of ‘mapping the customer journey’:

“Lean IT is no longer just about optimising IT. It is about optimising the world of the customer. To do that, we must not just think outside the box. We must also work outside the box. We must take a helicopter view of the whole process, looking for unexplored disconnects and then take a microscope to each disconnect.

“Lifting the hood on the processes behind booking flights, checking luggage and other actions we take for granted reveals a myriad of systems that all have to work together in order to make the experience seamless – if not always painless.

“Many organisations already have the data to do this, but nearly as many have years ago passed over responsibility for customer value to other organisations, agencies and institutions. Or worse still, to their competitors.”

Implementing lean

Among other findings the white paper shows how:

  •   Implementing Lean IT resulted in a reduction of waste and inefficiency, simultaneously increasing effectiveness and customer value.
  •   Lean freed up resources so they could quickly bring new innovations to market
  •  ‘Smarting up’ those who actually execute IT processes improved customer value.
  •   Focusing targets and management objectives on a customer’s purpose and not just the organization’s prejudices resulted in cost savings and increased satisfaction.

Download the full report Cleared for Takeoff 


Capability trumps output when assessing employees

In a mass-production world, the key drive is towards standardisation.

This makes sense if  there is little complexity and variety in the nature of the demand, and the adoption of ‘standards’ does not prevent improvement.

Having standard processes and products can help ensure high quality, for example in manufacturing, but it can also lead to a work ethic in which ‘working to a standard’ is accompanied by the abdication of any responsibility to the improvement of a standard.

This mindset is the biggest constraint on creativity, innovation and workplace ownership.

We advocate a world in which employees work beyond standards, breaking through to higher levels of performance while continually raising the bar.

As regards employees, there is a changing view of how to gauge their capabilities. In a mass-production environment, their performance is often measured by how many items the produce, sold or shipped.

Much more important however is the capabilities of  those individuals and departments: do they have the means of production overall, and what is the capability of the operation?

Lean business consultants in Europe

It is actually much more productive for managers to spend time in developing the capability of their organisation than in trying to push it to meet production targets.

Capability of means is more important than output. For example, if you were asked to drive 50 miles when your car had only one gallon of fuel and a capability of 30 miles to the gallon, it would be silly to set out on the journey.

The ability to measure capability is more important than the ability to measure output.


Sense & Respond: rethinking prioritizing and continuous improvement

Most Sense & Respond strategies turn conventional business theories on their head.

Consider the issue of prioritizing.

In a mass-production environment, limited capability leads to a business prioritizing and expediting some items, leaving others, by necessity, on the sidelines.

The problem, of course, is that waiting means waste.

Ironically the managers of such processes believe that prioritizing must be done despite the reality that the systematic prioritization of tasks actually creates more work.

In the end, prioritization is a symptom of the very disease is purports to cure. The ideal method is creating continuous flow and work on demand which removes the very need to prioritize and expedite work.

Another business mantra that gets a re-think in Sense & Respond is ‘continuous improvement’.

Commonly used in contemporary mass-production management circles, this philosophy has been around since the Industrial Revolution despite its current status as a leading principle of the Quality movement.

And it can indeed be an effective method as long as the product and services generated are  mostly constant and predictable without variety being a factor.


Continuous improvement towards perfection, however, is never enough:  missing is continuous value creation. There is little point in producing an item with no defects that doesn’t completely meet the customer’s evolving needs.

At the heart of a responsive business strategy, therefore, is a commitment to understanding what value looks like to the customer and then using the pursuit of continuous value creation as the driver for the business.


Customer Value Enterprise® continuous flow vs batch-and-queue

Customers can tell the difference when they’re being handled in a Customer Value Enterprise® or a batch-and-queue system.

In a batch-and-queue environment, a customer’s issue gets dealt with by any number of service professionals, all dealing with one portion of the process, the issue starting and stopping like a car in a traffic jam.

Because of such functional specialisation, the work lurches through the process, attended to in starts and stops, transfers to other departments, and at times even subject to periods of idling.

The customer may also experience the effects of this when contacting your business, trying to track progress as the work takes its elliptical journey. To be certain, their contact itself adds more work to the company and increasing frustration to no apparent end.

Customers may feel as if they are being ‘time-shared’ by various service personnel and departments.

Implementing lean

In a Customer Value Enterprise®, the aim is to create continuous flow and ensure this flow is as short as possible.

When any sort of service demand is received, it is acted on now: this moment. And the work is seen through to completion – it is not put in a queue to be picked up and processed later.

A customer being on the receiving end of this kind of service has a much better experience than with the over-processed journey of a batch-and-queue process.