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March 01, 2010


Graham Johnson

I understand the statement of the problem but I am surprised you limit the need for "better understanding" to just "New technology and market environments". Surely process and organisational context are just as important?

Bud Byrd

I have given considerable thought to products and services both as a former employee of our common corporate ancestry and as a private individual who at one time was a practitioner operating as a consultant in the services marketplace.

The question offered up in your Imperial College event, re: “…whether, as service-based industries have better information and tools at their disposal, we should expect their management to become more professional in the way they make decisions?” is very intriguing indeed. Unfortunately, I was not present for the conversation to gain context or more detail, nevertheless, I’ll state my opinion.

In areas wherein professional implies a level of absolutes that must be firmly adhered to;
e.g., the laws of physics, gravity; weights, measures; etc., require professional licensing to maintain the precise standards demanded of nature and society. Such areas as:

Bridge building, airframe design, submarine design, building architecture, etc., are among the many areas requiring strict adherence to absolutes, consequently, the requirement to certify the competence and performance of practitioners.

In electronics, laws (Ohm’s law among others) some of which may be considered physical laws require a level of knowledge that in many cases is as important to society as the physical laws, e.g., properly designed and manufactured electronics that keep the 747 airborne. Whether the engineers and by extension engineering managers performing design, testing design and other roles need be licensed or alternatively vouched for by a credible group (e.g., IEEE) may be debated …certified knowledge v. licensed professional being the criteria but most would come down on the side of professional (licensed) workers and professional supervisors in these roles.

Medicine and other life and death disciplines should have the same level of professionalism in the form of licensing, sanctioning, disciplining bodies, etc. applied as stated hereunder.

If, on the other hand, the area of services is more mundane than life threatening, e.g., the designation of professional is nothing more than a requirement that an academic degree, organizational affiliation or other qualifier be assigned that causes one services manager be deemed professional while another equally skilled not be, then the term professional is misapplied. Professional becomes a bureaucratic, exclusionary term with no redeemable value to society.

One area wherein professional is being bandied about and where many are calling for more professional management requirements is the area of finance. While greater professionalism as defined in knowledge of products and services is important, more important management requirements in this area are honesty and integrity with a pinch of humility. To help managers to display higher levels of honesty and integrity, it seems appropriate that regulations need be enacted / enforced that allow the business performing the service to prosper and/or to suffer, reap the same consequences as its many customers. Services firms (including respective management teams) should be held accountable and not be allowed to pass on all the risk inherent to their respective services / products without holding on their own books a large measure of any consequences of failure.

I love your posts …wish I had the opportunity to attend some (all) of your events. Please keep up the great work.

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