Monthly Archives: March 2011

Customer Experience, Process Design, Organizational Design and Change Management have to seamlessly integrate efforts to help organizations attain customer-centricity. But they usually don’t. So what’s stopping them?

What’s stopping Customer Experience, Process, Organizational Design & Change Management from working together to achieve customer-centricity?

About six months ago, I started a new Linkedin group, Building the Customer-Centric Organization (, please join!) to try bridging some gaps. We’ve had excellent discussions, learned from each other, respected each other. But I also sense that we’re mostly folks who well understand we have to work together, so when I ask a question like this one, we don’t delve far into “What’s stopping them?” “Us” ain’t “them.”

But I’ve also been posting questions in function-specific groups and pairs trying to assess what’s going on (or not going on). Based on these discussions, here’s my VERY high-level (and not scientific) take.

Many Customer Experience folks incorrectly cling to the perception they can create customer-centricity themselves.

  • Most process people are even more insular.
  • Organization development folks take a reactive stance (which I believe has merit).
  • Change management professionals best see the whole picture, but they’re more focused on implementing change rather than designing it.

Comments? And whether you to share my perspective or not, what’s your prescribed approach to creating the necessary cross-functional synergy?

Does the phrase “You can’t boil the ocean” pertain to customer-centric process?

Back in my CRM days, we had this phrase thrown at us repeatedly by CRM software sellers. Frankly, it’s left me with “rabbit ears.” Our approach back then was to align strategy with customers, process with strategy, and technology with process (which together create major organizational waves. Despite our successes, software sellers and others taking a narrower approach to CRM kept applying the “trying to boil the ocean” label to us.

Today, our practices are very similar – although we’ve dropped the “CRM” moniker, and we’re now more involved in organizational design and change management plus more clients handle strategy internally, in which case process is the first step. And once more, we’re hearing “boil the ocean,” this time from the process side. The specific reference is to performing enterprise or division-level flow scanning as the first process step. In our opinion, in front and back offices – where process most relevant to customer-centricity occurs, process is cross-functional, interdependent, and woven together. Starting with a full flow scan is the only way to avoid improving one function or flow without adversely affecting others, and the only way to planfully align strategy, process and technology.

To make a candid remark that may spark negative feedback, I suspect most of the “burn the ocean” commenters from both eras are compensating for their approaches and methods not supporting such wide scope work. And if that’s the case, and these practitioners start designing customer-centric process, we’ll have “another CRM” on our hands, and that would be awful.

So yell at me.

Between Customer-Centric Business Process & Change Management, Which is the Cart & Which is the Horse?

No doubt about it, customer-centric process design creates work that’s not supported by existing organizational structures. Should organizational design take the lead and define a customer-friendly organizational structure process can work within – or should process design the work first, with organizational design following?

With your answer, you’re changing, perhaps radically changing, organizational outcomes in sales, marketing and customer service. If organizational design goes first, you’re highly likely to wind up organizing around traditional role definitions, although perhaps with some modification. If you let process go first – and process redesign happens from the customer in – you’re much more likely to need significant restructuring to fully enable new work.

To tack on another question, should there be a default choice, barring extenuating circumstances, or is the answer so context-sensitive that each situation bears individual scrutiny.

Please join the Linkedin discussion thread at

While Marketing’s Becoming More Left-Brained, Is Process Becoming More Right-Brained?

I just read an interesting article titled, “The Service Dominant Mindset,” describing the demands and risks faced by marketing professionals because their industry is evolving from “product logic” towards “service logic.” I wasn’t far along before realizing the same story fits process professionals facing a similar shift from “production logic” to service logic. In both cases customers are driving change, and in both cases that’s forcing a new perspective and a new way of thinking.

The big question is, can the same people see and think differently?

I’ve watched the marketing transition from both inside and outside perspectives – and as I predicted early on, the answer is largely “no.” And watching the process world struggle with change now, I’m coming up with the same answer.

Why? Because brain wiring is hard wiring. While process approaches can be torqued around to do what they were not designed to do, the people implementing them aren’t nearly as malleable. The traits that make someone adept at dealing with process statistics, algorithms, sophisticated models and the like are not the traits that make someone effective intuitively understanding how to design work based on customer needs, wants and aspirations. In fact, the thinking comes from opposite lobes. Not many of us have ambidextrous minds, and definitely not me.

Are you seeing the same?