Keeping Momentum: The Customer Intimacy Transformation Challenge

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Taking a company through an enterprise-wide business model transformation to the Customer Intimacy Engine will remind you of that celebrated Beatles song - The Long and Winding Road.  [The performance above is post-Beatles, but Sir Paul delivers.]

Anything worth doing is, by definition, challenging and requires fortitude. How do you keep the organization focused and maintain the momentum?  

Let's keep in mind that companies have difficulty focusing for long periods of time and (like children) want immediate gratification. Therefore you and those who are like minded must be responsible for getting them on the journey and keeping them on the path.  

Because firms under invest in most new things, your effort may not be different. The journey is like building a skyscraper - lots of time spent building the foundation to support growth before significant financial outcomes are realized. (FYI, I'll discuss underinvestment as a root-cause of failure in the next post).

As you know, the true impact of the solutions-led Customer Intimacy Engine business model is pulling through the other products of the company. Therefore until critical mass is created and significant dollars are pulled through the business will not be viewed as significant - even a hundred million of new intimacy services will not be material for most large firms.

Add to these factors the truth that you are going to make some mistakes. You are going to select some solutions that don't work - particularly as you learn the business model.  Further, you'll hire some expensive talent that won't work out. 

Finally, you will screw up an account or two. 

So you find yourself with an undeniable truth - if your company does not become successful in the  Customer Intimacy Engine business model there will be troubled waters ahead. And, the challenge of keep the company moving forward when you are underfunded and many don't believe.  A way forward must be found. 

Let me provide some ideas:

  • In the year one plan - provide trade-offs for approval - fast growth big investment - slow growth smaller investment.  Always, remember to explain much of the investment is in what would be considered R&D for a new product.
  • Develop specific road signs for each step of the program - this will focus them on the steps toward success:
    - Hiring consultants that provide expertise in the vertical area in question
    - Developing first True Solution
    - Taking solution to market and validating applicability
    - Getting first sale
  • Force 90 day critical reviews with broad leadership audience focused on what is and what is not working - do not fall into trap of selling them all the time on how great you are doing.  This is a difficult and critical journey, and it is silly - not to mention fatal -  to put all the risk on those assigned to make the transformation work.
  • Develop a newsletter of the journey to tell everyone about the current successes and next steps
  • Budget into the organization education time to go around company and evangelize through education on business model, value to organization, current steps, challenges, successes and what's next.  
  • Be quick to make corrections - one of the things several of our clients have had difficulty with is adjusting organization charts, compensation plans, key offers, etc as needed.  Large corporations of very structured around the annual planning process.  The  Intimacy Engine model in the beginning must be flexible and agile.  You will be forced to make many changes throughout the year in the early stages.  This is going to frustrate the larger corporation, but make sure you continue to educate about the reasons for changing in mid-stream and why you will fail if you cannot adjust to new information.
  • Don't fight city hall - every company has things that must be done to be a good citizen - whenever possible do the right thing
  • Die on the right hills - as you know (if you have been reading this blog) there are several things that must happen in order for the journey to be successful and those can't be compromised.

On a positive note, I have witnessed several executives make their careers fighting for this journey but each time they had to keep the organization moving with them.  Each of them become both experts in the model (could speak to anyone - internally and externally - on why it is important and how it works) and were aggressive, in-the-trenches leaders - they went to see customers and assisted their teams in understanding how things work and what to do in different situations.

I hope this helps.  Next up, we look at under-investment and its consequences.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dean McMann published on August 15, 2010 11:53 PM.

Establishing a Beachhead: Introducing Customer Intimacy to the Organization was the previous entry in this blog.

The Customer Intimacy Journey: Are You Ready to Commercialize? is the next entry in this blog.

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