The Baconator

So I went to Cabin John Park in Rockville.

In the park was this Baconator machine.

It is a pig for collecting garbage (and not being a pig and trashing the park).

When you press the bottom on the upper right, the pig tells you what to put inside–paper, cardboard, and soft drink cans, but not bottles or broken glass.

The kids seemed really curious about it, but also were sort of scared of it–especially when it says, “I’m hungry, hungry, hungry!”

The Baconator will eat your refuse, but then who would want to eat the Baconator?

Plus as my niece used to say when she was very little, “Piggy isn’t kosher!” 😉

(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)

>Customer Service and Enterprise Architecture


Good customer service is worth its weight in gold and indeed, many people are willing to pay extra for this.

In fact, I would venture to say that most of us are usually willing to pay extra if we know that the customer service will be there to protect our purchase or investment.

The Wall Street Journal, 25 April 2008, introduces a new book called “The Best Service is No Service” by Bill Price and Dave Jaffe that discusses what real customer service is all about.

How bad is customer service these days (despite all the technology)?

“When calling an 800 number, we expect to find ourselves in voice-response hell. We dutifully follow instructions to key in a 10-digit policy number—only to be asked by the customer-service rep for the same darn number. Waiting on hold for 25 minutes? Well, that’s what speakerphones are for.”

How have companies responded to calls for better customer service?

“There is more to helping customers than picking up the phone within three rings or emailing within 24 hours.” And these measures are often gamed; here are some examples:

  • “At one company, where managers imposed a target ‘average handle time (call time) of 12minutes, phone calls miraculously shortened to just under 12 minutes: As the 12-minute mark approached, agents simply said whatever it took to get the caller of the phone.
  • The call center at another company hit on the idea of reducing the number of phone lines so that the excess callers simply got a busy signal-and went unmeasured.”

“In other words: don’t just ask how long it took to help the customer, ask how often the customer needed help and why. The goal is to avoid the need for a customer to contact the company [about problems] in the first place.”

The authors contend that the goal for good customer service is for there to be no need for customer service—i.e. the customer is happy with the product or service being provided and there are no problems and therefore, no complaints. This to me sounds akin to Six Sigma and the quest for zero defects.

And if zero (or close to zero) defects are not the reality, then good customer service is about finding out the “root causes” of the problems and solving them, not just appearing responsive to the complaints, but doing nothing to ensure they don’t happen again.

Good customer service is a strategic competitive advantage, and organizations should include improvements to this area as a goal in their plans.

From a User-centric EA perspective, good customer service is like a sister to User-centricity. We put the user/customer/stakeholder at the center of the organization’s value proposition.

We are here to serve the user and that should mean more than just paying lip service to them. It must mean that we continuously improve processes, products, and service and make the end-user experience zero-defect, problem and hassle free.

>Six Sigma and Enterprise Architecture


Six Sigma is a set of practices originally developed by Motorola to systematically improve processes by eliminating defects. A defect is defined as nonconformity of a product or service to its specifications.

While the particulars of the methodology were originally formulated by Bill Smith at Motorola in 1986, Six Sigma was heavily inspired by six preceding decades of quality improvement methodologies such as quality control, TQM, and Zero Defects. Like its predecessors, Six Sigma asserts the following:

  • Continuous efforts to reduce variation in process outputs is key to business success
  • Manufacturing and business processes can be measured, analyzed, improved and controlled
  • Succeeding at achieving sustained quality improvement requires commitment from the entire organization, particularly from top-level management

The term “Six Sigma” refers to the ability of highly capable processes to produce output within specification. In particular, processes that operate with six sigma quality produce at defect levels below 3.4 defects per (one) million opportunities (DPMO). Six Sigma’s implicit goal is to improve all processes to that level of quality or better.

Six Sigma is a registered service mark and trademark of Motorola, Inc. Motorola has reported over US$17 billion in savings from Six Sigma as of 2006. (Wikipedia).

Is Enterprise Architecture another offshoot of Six Sigma, Total Quality Management, Kaizen, and so on or is it different?

First what are the similarities between EA and Six Sigma?

  1. Business process improvement—both seek to improve business processes to enhance efficiency and effectiveness and improve enterprise “quality”.
  2. Performance measurement— both believe in measuring and managing results of operations and in driving toward improved performance and mission execution.
  3. Alignment to strategy—both seek to align outputs to strategic goals

What are the differences between EA and Six Sigma?

  1. Technology versus design Focus—EA focuses on technology enhancing business performance; Six Sigma emphasizes design for defect-free performance (or zero defects).
  2. Use of Information for improved decision-making versus process optimization—EA captures business and technical information to improve IT planning, governance, and decision-making (such as new IT investments); while Six Sigma captures and measures information on performance to optimize business processes.
  3. Information- versus industrial-based economy—EA aligns technology solutions with the information requirements of the business and its foundation is in the information economy; while Six Sigma’s defect-free processes are based on an industrial, engineering, and product-based economy.
  4. Information-centric versus process centric initiative—EA is an information-centric initiative that addresses information requirements, information technology solutions, information security, information access, information archival, information privacy, information sharing, and so on; Six Sigma is a process-centric initiative that addresses process inputs, outputs, controls, and mechanisms and works through process definition, measurement, analysis, improvement, and control (DMAIC).

So EA and Six Sigma share some important facets such as business process improvement, performance measurement, and alignment to strategy; however, EA is an information-centric initiative geared toward the information age, as such it takes Six Sigma into the 21st century.