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customer buyingBusinesses are getting increasingly complex and so are customers’ expectations.  Digital organizations are digitizing their critical Customer Journeys at scale to outperform competition.  These organizations are using Digitization to create streamlined journeys, which result in more agile IT units, quick delivery of new products, and improved Customer Experiences and Engagement.

But before embarking on digitization and streamlining Customer Journeys, organizations need to transform their products, processes, legacy systems and technology, and culture to become truly digital businesses.

Streamlining multiple Customer Journeys concurrently requires integration of existing systems, building new capabilities, and deploying existing competences in a different way.  Specifically, it entails embracing the following 5-phase Omni-channel Customer Journey Design approach that is critical for improving Customer Experiences and accomplishing higher Customer Engagement:

  1. Develop Enterprise Customer Experience Story
  2. Prioritize Technology Transformation Projects
  3. Develop a Flexible Ecosystem of Technologies and Platforms
  4. Adapt Principles of Strong, Agile, and Lean
  5. Be Adaptive in Performance Management

Now, let’s talk about the first 3 phases of the Omni-channel Customer Journey Design approach.

Phase 1 – Develop Enterprise Customer Experience Story

Creating a Customer Experience Story calls for setting up a Customer Experience team.  The Customer Experience team begins by identifying the critical factors and main concerns in their customer relationships.  Around these themes, they, then, carefully outline the experiences customers may come across during each and every interaction they have with the company in the form of a story.  The Enterprise Customer Experience Story is unique to every company and provides a summary of the strategy, brand, and positioning in workable terms.

Next, the team identifies the journeys that are able to effectively deliver the factors and features critical for the customers utilizing digitization.  Each journey should be critically analyzed to assess its significance, cost advantages associated with scaling it, the governance and technical impediments, and the availability of adequate financial and leadership resources to manage it.  Thorough analysis of Customer Journeys yields a plan of action that aids in creating prioritized journeys.

Phase 2 – Prioritize Technology Transformation Projects

IT Transformation is typically the most challenging and resource hungry among other change initiatives.  For instance, designing a mobile app is simple, however, it’s the linkage of the app to all the channels customers use and its integration with the back-end systems that is complicated.

To undertake Digitization, companies should avoid digitizing each journey separately—as it fosters internal silos—and investing heavily in Internet or mobile-channel IT.  A better approach for the organizations is to rather prioritize the IT initiatives to enable smooth transformation of IT architecture with the addition of more customer journeys.  Standard IT components are reusable across different journeys.

Phase 3 – Develop a Flexible Ecosystem of Technologies and Platforms

An important consideration for digitizing core journeys and scaling digitization is to link your IT systems with the technologies and platforms working outside the firm.  These external systems provide the organization several advantages, including quick access to new customers, data pools, and capabilities.

Next-generation integration architecture should be designed in such a way that it should support open standards, dynamic interaction models, and curtail security threats.  Progress in cloud computing and technology infrastructure has made quick and easy access, management, and operations of infrastructure resources possible—including networks, servers, databases, programs, and services.  The skills needed to manage these technology ecosystems include DevOps experts to supervise integration of development and operations, enterprise architects, cloud engineers to manage software and cloud-computing, data scientists, and automation engineers.

Interested in learning more about the other key phases of the Customer Journey Design approach?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on Omni-channel Customer Journey here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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Robotics 2Disruptive technologies are helping companies automate work. Robotic Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence are taking up jobs which were in the past earmarked only for smart humans. Driver-less cars, automated check-in kiosks at airports, and autopilots steering the aircrafts are just few instances of how automation is transforming our world.

However, automation presents unique challenges that organizations need to identify and mitigate appropriately. These include costs associated with job losses; confidentiality of data; quality and safety risks stemming from automated processes; and regulatory implications.

Other critical factors to consider before investing in automation are adoption, pace of development of automation, and readiness of organizational leadership in redefining processes and roles to support automation.

The key question is how automation will impact our work in future. Should we anticipate benefits — e.g., efficiency gains and quality of life improvements — or dread further disruption of established business and job cuts?

Research by McKinsey suggests that Robotic Process Automation will impact 4 workplace areas the most:

  1. Workplace Activities
  2. (Re)definition of Work
  3. High-wage Jobs
  4. Creativity and Meaning

Now, let’s discuss the first two key areas in further detail.

Workplace Activities

Research findings (based on the US labor market data) reveal that the future does not likely hold complete automation of individual jobs, but rather automation of certain activities within specific occupations. The assumption that only routine, codifiable activities can be easily automated — and those that necessitate implicit knowledge will be unaffected — is misleading. Automation has already reached (or surpassed) the median level of human performance in some cases.

Capital or hardware-intensive industries — under stringent regulatory control — are slow and expensive to automate and need more time to reap return on investments. Whereas, the sectors where automation is mostly software based (e.g., financial services) may create value at a far lower cost and within rather shorter span of time.

(Re)definition of Work

The current level of automation can potentially transform a number of occupations to a certain level, but it requires redefinition of job roles and activities. Research reveals that only about 5% of occupations can be completely automated with the current level of technology.

In spite of this, automation can boost human productivity even in the highest paid occupations by taking care of repetitive daily tasks — e.g., analyzing paperwork, reports, data and evaluating applications based on criteria — and freeing up time for people to focus more on high value work that involves human emotions and creativity.

For instance, Automation and Machine Learning can automate diagnosis of common ailments, thereby enabling the doctors to concentrate more on acute or complicated problems. Likewise, lawyers can employ data mining tools to sift through piles of documentation to isolate the most relevant cases for their review.

Interested in learning more about the other key areas most impacted by Robotic Process Automation? You can download an editable PowerPoint on Impact of Robotic Process Automation here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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Customer presents cardThe constant advancement in technology has raised the expectations of customers in terms of their interaction with companies. This digital disruption is also forcing businesses to develop new capabilities and explore innovative ways and means to deliver improved Customer Experiences.

Organizations can overhaul their Customer Journeys by embracing latest digital insights and practices. To develop a truly exceptional, breakthrough Customer Experience, organizations should work towards adopting 7 key imperatives:

  1. Develop Customer Empathy
  2. Design the Complete Customer Experience
  3. Reinvent the Customer Experience
  4. Lead the Way with Industry Rules
  5. Become an Agile Organization
  6. Continuously Improve and Iterate
  7. Foster a Culture of Collaboration
No alt text provided for this image

An organization does not need to execute all 7 of these imperatives—it varies from case to case depending on the circumstances, market, and customer requirements.

Let’s, now, discuss the first 4 imperatives in further detail.

Develop Customer Empathy

Many firms use surveys and face-to-face interviews to gather firsthand customer insights to enhance their Customer Experiences.

However, when designing Customer Journeys, in addition to customer data, companies need to understand their customers’ behaviors deeply and put themselves in their customers’ shoes. This entails knowing the complexities the customers face during various journeys and developing new ways to understand Customer Journeys—for instance, by making researchers accompany customers while shopping, by asking customers to report their activities and provide feedback as they interact with various offerings, and involving customers to provide their input on early versions of proposed offerings.

Design the Complete Customer Experience

Most people consider that design pertains only to good artwork, outlook, and appearance of products. However, it involves not just the look and feel of a product but also the way it operates. To render breakthrough Customer Experience, companies need to fundamentally shift the way design is perceived—not just the user interface design rather designing the overall Customer Experience.

Great Customer Experience design encompasses crafting every interface the customers have with the provider from the minute they consider a purchase. It warrants enrolling all people that can make a difference to the customer (especially from the operations and IT units), mapping out customer touchpoints, and transforming fundamental systems and processes.

Reinvent the Customer Experience

Improving current Customer Journeys enables achieving incremental cost reductions and quality enhancements. However, to improve Customer Journeys there is a need to shift the way Customer Journeys are perceived—from merely addressing the issues in a Customer Journey and streamlining a process to completely transforming the entire Customer Experience.

This should be done by carefully deliberating on and thoroughly analyzing all journeys from a customer’s perspective, drawing inspirations and studying benchmarks from other industries, and addressing customers’ needs.

Lead the Way with Industry Rules

Financial institutions are, to this day, quite cautious of utilizing technology to verify customers’ identification documents for deposit account opening. Compliance teams at these institutions often resist the efforts to transform customer account opening journeys, as they exercise extreme care to ensure regulatory compliance. Some banks make the customers fill their applications online but ask them to visit a branch with the completed paperwork, resulting in a cumbersome Customer Experience that is no longer acceptable as we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Leading organizations strictly adhere to laws but demonstrate to the regulatory authorities how technology has helped them break the status quo surrounding regulatory compliance and develop innovative solutions to manage risks and compliance better.

Interested in learning more about the other imperatives key to developing a breakthrough Customer Experience? You can download an editable PowerPoint on Breakthrough Customer Experience (CX) here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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customer buyingDigital-savvy startups are disrupting markets and threatening conventional businesses.  They are doing this by utilizing technology to offer new products and services and providing tailored yet uncomplicated experiences for their customers.

Likewise, large traditionally-run firms will have to keep evolving their Customer Experience approaches to secure additional avenues of revenue and to stay competitive.  To accomplish this, they will need to develop capabilities to effectively utilize insights on customer preferences and design offerings as per the customers’ preferences.

Many organizations, today, are undertaking Digital Transformation programs to improve their Customer Experiences.  However, a majority of these Digital Transformation initiatives fall short of securing their maximum value potential due to focusing only on improving specific touchpoints instead of confronting the entire customer journeys—spanning across several departments and channels.

To make their Customer Experience sustainable and to become Customer-centric Organizations need to clearly transform their ways of doing business, operations, and employee behaviors.  It is critical to improve these fundamental support processes before embarking on initiating any Customer Experience optimization initiatives.

Customer Experience optimization facilitates in gaining more satisfied/paying customers, additional value, and better retention rates.  Research reveals that the companies that have higher Customer Satisfaction levels can achieve four times growth in value compare to those that rank lower in Customer Satisfaction.

Customer Experience (CX) Approach to Value Creation

The following pragmatic 5-phase approach to Customer Experience Management and Value Creation is of great benefit to organizations aspiring to enrich their Customer Experience, achieve clear-cut differentiation, and capture the most potential value:

  1. Understand What Customers Value
  2. Simplify and Streamline Offerings
  3. Link Customer Value to Operational Drivers
  4. Focus on Most Important Customer Journeys
  5. Adopt Continuous Improvement (CI) Thinking

Let’s now delve deeper into the first 3 phases of the approach.

Understand What Customers Value

Ascertaining the key drivers of Customer Satisfaction is the foremost step in improving Customer Experience.  A flawed approach—that many companies still employ—at the onset of a Customer Experience optimization initiative is to reduce costs associated with internal processes and exploring customer pain points.  This doesn’t assist in maximizing Value Creation.

Customer-centric organizations, on the other hand, devote their time in developing a clear understanding of what really matters to their customers.  This helps in deciding where to focus, rationalizing their processes, and creating new experiences for the customers to generate additional value.

Great Customer Experience necessitates much more than just satisfactory interactions.  Customer Satisfaction should be mapped along the entire customer journey—spanning multiple functions and channels—as customers use various channels to communicate with companies before making a transaction.

Simplify and Streamline Offerings

Alongside rationalizing the processes, it is equally important to carry out a detailed analysis of the brands, offerings, and price structures is essential to tap value from Customer Experience.  After all, even the most pleasing Customer Experience cannot offset an unpredictable or exorbitantly expensive product.

Once these fundamentals are in order, organizations should investigate which interactions and Customer Journeys carry the most significance in a Customer Experience; evaluate how the organization is rated in each journey; identify and focus on the operations that need to be overhauled to improve the overall Customer Experience.

Link Customer Value to Operational Drivers

Technology and customer input provides the stimulus to streamline offerings and Customer Experience.  However, the real value comes from linking the Customer Experience to core operational processes.  Seeing journeys from the customer perspective aids in focusing on what they need and linking internal processes, structures, and KPIs to customer facilitation.

This necessitates deeper insights on elements that are of most value to the customer across a journey, pinpointing drivers of business costs and revenues, and—most importantly—inculcating the right mindsets across the organization.  This detailed evaluation of customer journeys facilitates in determining operational improvements that bear the most positive effect on Customer Experience.

Interested in learning more about the other phases of the approach to managing Customer Experience?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on the Customer Experience (CX) Approach to Create Value here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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bright-cardiac-cardiology-433267The typical approach to improving productivity focuses on assessing variance in quality, time, rate, service, or cost, around which management systems develop incrementally or revolutionary.

Organizational Health Index, on the contrary, focuses on improving performance through improved alignment of organizational systems. For example, by improving competence of key components such as mindset, work design, technical expertise, or relationships; or through improving the interface between work processes, or the interaction between work practices.

Simply put, the capability of an organization to achieve its strategic goals and their alignment defines an organization’s health. The Organizational Health Index (OHI) leverages logical consistency to manage the organizational health. OHI entails quantifiable evaluations, diagnostics and recipes for success that allow the leaders to calculate and accomplish the organizational health goals, required to sustain long-term performance.

Organizational health refers to the need to address soft (leadership, direction or culture) and hard factors (accountability, reporting lines, or controls) affecting performance. The organizational health index is an ongoing continuous improvement system applicable across an organization. The OHI measures not only the current health level, but also determines the next steps for an organization. There are numerous advantages to the organizations implementing it, including:

  • Benchmarking organizational health against the rivals.
  • Aligning the organizational systems, units, and people by communicating shared goals and priorities; and highlighting and plugging the disconnects.
  • Improving organizational performance by pinpointing variances and opportunities to improve health and drive business success.

The OHI Diagnostic Framework provides a road map for leaders and managers to improve organizational health. It measures the organization against the 9 most critical health outcomes; these outcomes comprise both hard and soft organizational elements. Careful measurement of these 9 elements has a proven link with improved financial performance and earning above-average EBITDA margins:

  1. Direction
  2. Accountability
  3. Coordination and control
  4. External orientation
  5. Leadership
  6. Innovation and Learning
  7. Capabilities
  8. Motivation
  9. Work Environment
Org Health Index
There are 37 management practices under these 9 health outcomes, developed to help companies identify the behaviors most critical to their health journey:

Direction

  • Shared Vision
  • Strategic Clarity
  • Employee Involvement

Accountability

  • Role clarity
  • Performance contracts
  • Consequence Management
  • Personal Ownership

Coordination and Control

  • People Performance Review
  • Operational Management
  • Financial Management
  • Professional Standards
  • Risk Management

External Orientation

  • Customer Focus
  • Competitor Insights
  • Business Partnerships
  • Government and Community Relations

Leadership

  • Authoritative Leadership
  • Consultative Leadership
  • Supportive Leadership
  • Challenging Leadership

Innovation and Learning

  • Top-down Innovation
  • Bottom-up Innovation
  • Knowledge Sharing
  • Capturing External Ideas

Capabilities

  • Talent Acquisition
  • Talent Development
  • Process based Capabilities
  • Outsourced Expertise

Motivation

  • Meaningful Values
  • Inspirational Leaders
  • Career Opportunities
  • Financial Incentives
  • Rewards and Recognition

Work Environment

  • Open and Trusting
  • Internally Competitive
  • Operationally Disciplined
  • Creative and Entrepreneurial

Years of research have shown the healthiest companies to align with 1 of the 4 recipes for organizational health. These recipes constitute concrete management practices and activities for the organization to implement.  Leaders need to acknowledge and align to the recipe that is appropriate for them. They can use these success recipes to plan and implement a change program that results in sustainable outcomes. The 4 recipes for organizational health are:

  1. Leadership
  2. Market Maker
  3. Continuous Improvement
  4. Talent

Interested in learning more about the other recipes for Organizational Health and the OHI Diagnostic Framework? You can download an editable PowerPoint on Organizational Health Index here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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design-learn-pattern-247819

Organizations need to persistently improve the way they do business to stay ahead of the curve. New ideas trigger organizational improvement and build the foundation of a Learning Organization.

Scholars have defined a Learning Organization in many different ways. Some suggest it as an organization skilled at creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge, and at modifying its behavior to reflect new knowledge and insights. Marlene Fiol and Marjorie A. Lyles describe organizational learning as “the process of improving actions through better knowledge and understanding.” Barbara Levitt and James G. March define organizations as “Learning Organizations when they encode inferences from history into routines that guide behavior. Chris Argyris categorizes organizational learning as “a process of detecting and correcting error.” According to Peter Senge, “a Learning Organization is a group of people working together collectively to enhance their capacities to create results they care about.”

Being a Learning Organization offers several advantages. A perpetual influx of insights and new experience keeps the organization dynamic and ready for transformation; assists in better management of investments, improves efficiency; and helps in developing cost leadership and differentiation strategies. Learning Organizations tend to be more innovative by encouraging people to learn, develop, and by generating a more innovative environment. Shared learning builds the corporate image of the organization and increases the pace of change within the organization. Learning Organizations provide their people the ability to think insightfully about complex problems, take coordinated action, improve decision making, and instill a sense of community in them.

Despite efforts to improve continuously and creating new knowledge, organizations cannot simply become Learning Organizations. They employ various approaches but what they actually need is to become proficient in translating new knowledge into new ways of doing things, and actively managing the learning process so that it gets ingrained into the organizational culture.

Becoming a Learning Organization necessitates mastering 5 key activities. These 5 activities form the building blocks of a Learning Organization and should be integrated into the organizational core to transform your company into a Learning Organization.

  1. Systematic Problem Solving
  2. Experimentation
  3. Learning from Experience
  4. Learning from Others
  5. Knowledge Transfer
5 Building Blocks of a Learning Org

Applying these practices to some degree or in isolated cases isn’t enough. To ensure continued success, these practices should be complemented by distinct mindsets, support systems, and processes.

Let’s now discuss the first 3 building blocks in detail.

1. Systematic Problem Solving

Systematic problem solving is based on scientific methods for diagnosing problems, e.g., the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) cycle or “hypothesis-generating, hypothesis-testing.” The technique employs fact-based management, relying on concrete data instead of assumptions for making decisions and utilizes statistical tools—such as Pareto charts, histograms, correlation, and cause and effect diagrams—to consolidate data and draw conclusions.

For a real Learning Organization, people need to become more disciplined, pay more attention to detail, assess underlying causes, and analyze data before reaching decisions.

2. Experimentation

Experimentation involves systematic exploration and testing of new knowledge. Experimentation has 2 fundamental configurations; both forms transfer knowledge and yield new insights, capabilities, tools, techniques, and processes:

  1. Ongoing programs
  2. Demonstration Projects

Ongoing Programs

Ongoing programs entails a chain of small experiments aimed at yielding incremental gains in knowledge. These programs maintain a steady flow of new ideas by sending workforce on sabbaticals at different places to learn new work practices and tools from industry and academia, and applying that knowledge to their daily routines. Such programs foster risk taking and a feeling of “benefits of experimentation far outweigh the costs.”

Demonstration Projects

Demonstration projects are one of a kind, large-scale initiatives that include holistic system-wide transformation targeted at a single site. These projects are executed with a goal of developing new organizational capabilities using a “clean slate” approach.

Self-managing, multi-departmental teams; high level of employee autonomy; considerable “learning by doing;” course corrections; implicit policy guidelines, precedents, and decision rules are the key characteristics of demonstration projects.

3. Learning from Experience

Learning Organizations gain valuable knowledge from their past experiences, by doing an exhaustive and systematic appraisal of past successes and failures. However, not too many managers pay attention to past experiences or reflect on those, eventually losing valuable insights. To inculcate a culture of learning, lessons learned should be recorded and made readily accessible to all employees.

A handful of companies have laid out processes for their managers to contemplate on their past actions and incorporate those in their learning. At the core of this approach lies the belief that distinguishes productive failure from unproductive success. Productive failure delivers knowledge and understanding whereas unproductive success goes unnoticed where nobody knows what went well and why. Learning from experience approach isn’t that expensive—case studies and project reviews can be compiled with little cost.

Interested in learning more about the building blocks of a Learning Organization? You can download an editable PowerPoint on Learning Organization: 5 Building Blocks here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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customer culture innovationA large majority of organizations rarely focus on gathering and utilizing customer-centric knowledge. So much so that they even introduce a product without having vital insights on the customer and their unmet needs, and they are often clueless about them. Consequently, many product development initiatives fall flat as managers struggle to filter and evaluate ideas.

Most organizations, today, are developing initiatives around Customer Experience Strategy and Customer Journey Mapping. Customer-centric Organizations are deeply focused towards value creation for their customers. They understand the unique customer insights needed to make customer-centric decisions, are able to gather those customer insights, and are aware of the way to utilize the insights in creating value for their customers. By using customer insights, Customer-centric Organizations drive their product innovation success rate significantly higher than the industry average.

In order to develop this capability, organizations need to first utilize a customer-centric research process to gather the customer insights required to drive value creation. This is accomplished when:

  • They know the desired unique customer insights needed to make customer-centric decision.
  • They are able to gather the required customer insights.
  • They realize the proper time and way to utilize the insights in making value creation focused business decisions.

Building a Customer-centric Culture of Innovation warrants a methodical approach. A potent approach to building such a culture of innovation encompasses 3 key phases:

  1. Qualitative Insights: Apply Customer-Centric Fundamentals - The first phase commences by organizing an intensive day-long workshop for each cross-functional product team. The teams engage in a unique customer journey where they employ a “jobs-to-be-done” lens to analyze their market, and identify valuable, qualitative customer insights needed to drive customer-centric decision making.
  2. Quantitative Insights: Quantify Opportunities that Exist - This phase entails conducting quantitative research to rank the most critical customer insights needed to develop customer-centric data model. The insights available through this data set help the company in making customer-centric business decisions for years to come.
  3. Implementation: Leverage New Customer Insights for Growth - In this phase, managers and employees across the organization are trained on utilizing the insights to devise market and product strategies, and to encourage customer-centric growth.
Customer-centric culture of Innovation
Let’s take a deeper dive into the first phase of this process.

Qualitative Insights: Apply Customer-Centric Fundamentals

The first phase commences by organizing an intensive workshop for each cross-functional product team. It is typically a day-long session where the teams engage in a unique customer journey. They employ a “jobs-to-be-done” lens to analyze their market and identify valuable, qualitative customer insights needed to drive customer-centric decision making. The qualitative customer insights developed during the first phase serve as an indispensable, long-term guide in the journey to a customer-centric mindset.

During phase I, each product team is trained on customer-centric philosophy in a workshop settings. The workshop participants participate in qualitative research discussions designed to obtain critical customer information and fresh insights. Upon completion of the initial phase, the product team is able to develop a shared innovation vocabulary and gather customer insights to make customer-centric marketing and product development decisions.

Interested in learning about the third phase of the approach to Customer-centric Culture of Innovation? You can download an editable PowerPoint on Customer-centric Culture of Innovation here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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design-learn-pattern-247819In this era of rapid change only organizations that are evolving and continuously learning can flourish. Successful organizations discover how to tap their people’s commitment and capacity to learn at all levels.

Learning Organization is a place where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new ideas and thinking are nurtured, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together. A Learning Organization is established on the principles of innovation, free flow of ideas, and a consistent focus on transforming the ways of doing business.

Learning Organizations adopt 5 distinct practices to succeed, which form the “building blocks” of such organizations:

  • Systematic Problem Solving
  • Experimentation
  • Learning from Experience
  • Learning from Others
  • Knowledge Transfer

Five key characteristics distinguish a Learning Organization from the rest. These attributes serve as the guiding principles and practices that these organizations study and integrate into their DNA. A blend of these core characteristics helps organizations adopt a more interconnected way of thinking:

  1. Systems Thinking
  2. Personal Mastery
  3. Mental Models
  4. Shared Vision
  5. Team Learning

Learning Organization Primer

By adopting and mastering these core characteristics organizations become communities that employees can commit to. Let’s, now, discuss the first 3 characteristics in detail.

Systems Thinking

Systems thinking allows people to study businesses as bounded objects. Learning Organizations possess information systems to assess the performance of the organization and its components as a whole. Systems thinking states that all the characteristics must be present together in an organization for it to be a Learning Organization. However, some experts consider that the characteristics of a Learning Organization are gradually acquired, rather than developed simultaneously.

Personal Mastery

Personal mastery is an individual’s commitment to learning. It is about becoming more productive by applying skills to work in the most constructive manner. It involves clarification of focus, vision, and to interpret reality objectively. Training, development, and continuous self-improvement are the sources of individual learning.

Mental Models

Mental models include assumptions and generalizations retained by individuals and organizations, which go undetected, as mental models limit peoples’ observations. Learning Organizations need to identify and challenge these models. For a learning environment it is important to replace confrontational attitudes with an open culture that promotes inquiry and trust, introduce mechanisms for uncovering and assessing organizational theories of action, and discard any unwanted values.

Role of Leadership

Productivity and competitiveness relies on knowledge generation and processing. Therefore, organizations not only have to invest in new machinery and systems to improve production, but also focus on knowledge generation and learning of their people. Learning Organizations require a new view of leadership. Leaders in Learning Organizations create workplaces that help people keep building their capabilities to understand complexity, clarify vision, and improve shared mental models.

Peter Senge describes the 3 key qualities of leaders to be critical in leading the Learning Organization:

  1. Designer
  2. Steward
  3. Teacher

Designer

The key roles of a leader as a designer in Learning Organizations is designing the policies, strategies, and systems. The designer also outlines the governing ideas — the purpose, vision, and core values — for the people. They plan and develop the learning processes whereby people throughout the organization can deal productively with the critical issues they face, and cultivate personal mastery of the team members in the desired learning disciplines.

Steward

According to Peter Senge, the notion of management in this modern age should be replaced by “stewardship” — whereby control and consistency should be swapped with partnership and choice. The leader as a steward tells ‘purpose stories’ about their organization and relate those stories. They explain the reasons of the tasks that are required to be performed, the need for the organization to evolve, and the purpose of evolution. They learn to listen to other people, involve them, and develop vision — both individual and shared.

Interested in learning more about the key attributes of leaders and core characteristics of a Learning Organization? You can download an editable PowerPoint on Learning Organization Primer here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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adventure-beautiful-blue-sky-666737Most Transformation initiatives fail to achieve their anticipated objectives.

Change Management is all about engaging and rallying people — at all levels in the organization — to make the transition and sustain that change. It is critical to ensure that the entire workforce is eager and ready to embrace the required new behaviors. More often than not, the technical side of a change initiative is well planned, but it’s the implementation part that fails — particularly, changing the mindsets and behaviors of the entire workforce to enable change to stick.

Managing change is not an occasional affair; it is an iterative process that works on motivating human behavior to accept and adjust to a desired state of mind. The process is naturally evolving as it adapts in accordance with the feedback from the people.

Change Management demands a thorough yet organized approach to enable the “people side” of change to work — essential for accommodating and sustaining Business Transformations. This entails assisting people incorporate new mindsets, processes, policies, practices, and behaviors.

A methodical approach to make the entire workforce accept and support change constitutes 8 critical levers:

  1. Defining the Change
  2. Creating a Shared Need
  3. Developing a Shared Vision
  4. Leading the Change
  5. Engaging and Mobilizing Stakeholders
  6. Creating Accountability
  7. Aligning Systems and Structures
  8. Sustaining the Change

Now, let’s discuss the first 4 levers in detail.

1. Defining the Change

The first step entails outlining the rationale, scope, and results of the change initiative for the enterprise, key departments, and roles. There is a need to define critical elements, including the requirements from the initiative, the execution planning, and the adjustments needed to encourage people to work better.

The project sponsors need to clearly outline the essence of the proposed Transformation initiative, to realistically embed Change Management into the design of the program, and develop effective Change Management plans. An initial baseline of the expected effect of the program on people should be performed. The baseline also helps analyze the impact of the change program — in terms of skills inventory, head-count indications, adjustments in accountabilities and relationships, shifts in incentives and pay structures, and future learning needs.

2. Creating a Shared Need

Once the change and its impact has been delineated, the next thing to do is to create a shared understanding of the rationale for Transformation across the organization. To create a shared need for the Transformation endeavor, the change sponsor needs to build awareness of the necessity for change amongst the senior team, key stakeholders, and the entire organization; demonstrate to the people the benefits of change; and set up a feedback mechanism across the organization. The alignment afforded by developing a shared need for change helps build a strong footing for Transformation.

3. Developing a Shared Vision

An essential element of implementing transformation entails delineating a clear vision that outlines critical actions and the anticipated outcomes. It helps in encouraging and involving the workforce in the Transformation initiative, giving them a sense of purpose by becoming a part of something bigger. The vision of the organization after Transformation should be coherent with the company values and mission.

4. Leading the Change

This lever entails developing change leadership and implementation skills needed to drive and enable sustainable change. Engagement and commitment of senior leaders is essential for leading change. They are responsible for planning their and the entire workforce’s actions, demonstrating or role modeling the new mindsets and actions, designating program sponsors — e.g., business unit leaders who are enthusiastic about the Transformation initiative and also act as change agents — motivating others to support transformation, and setting up a road map for the change leaders to steer the organization to achieve the anticipated performance milestones.

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banking-brochure-commerce-1374544Transforming a product-driven firm to a customer-driven enterprise is inevitable in order to stay ahead in today’s extremely competitive markets. The days of mass marketing, mass media communications, and little-to-none direct interface with customers are long gone. The emphasis, now, should be on maximizing customer relationships and becoming customer-driven organizations rather than merely selling products. The technological advancements of this age offer potent tools for organizations to utilize in order to engage with the customers directly; gather and mine information; and tailor their products and services appropriately.

Leading organizations are making huge investments in data analytics and transforming their strategies to focus on the customers’ evolving needs. They are striving hard to improve their customer retention and deepen their relationships utilizing rich customer insights, tailoring products according to the personalized needs of the customers, and presenting the offerings in a variety of store formats.

The Customer Department

To become customer-centric organizations, companies need to transform their traditional marketing function into a new unit called the “Customer Department.” The Customer Department should be created to deliver maximum profits to the customers and nurturing customer relationships instead of pushing products.

This necessitates transforming the organizational structure, culture, strategy, and reward programs in line with the shift in focus from managing transactions to cultivating customer relationships. Specifically, there is a need to add the position of Chief Customer Officer (CCO)—under the CEO—and various Customer Managers underneath the CCO. The roles and responsibilities of these positions should be:

Chief Customer Officer (CCO)

The most prominent shift in a customer-centric organization is replacing the traditional Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) role with the Chief Customer Officer (CCO) role. Reporting to the CEO, the CCO is primarily responsible for devising and executing the customer relationship strategy, directing all the client-facing roles, and fostering a customer-driven culture in the organization. The main tasks of the CCO position include ensuring smooth flow of customer information, increasing productivity utilizing various metrics, and regularly interacting with the customers to understand their concerns.

Customer Managers

In a customer-centric organization, the Customer Managers (CMs) are in charge of various customer segments. They are accountable for enhancing the value of a customer relationship by ascertaining customers’ product needs. To make this role effective, there is a need to realign resources—people, budgets, authority—from product managers to the CMs.

The main tasks of the CM position include defining customer needs, extracting and interpreting customer insights utilizing various sources—e.g., mining customer forums, blogs, and online purchasing data—, and striving to improve the lives of the customers.

Additional Responsibilities of the Customer Department

Customer-centric organizations make the Customer Department accountable for some of the critical customer-facing functions which were once considered an integral part of the Marketing Department. These functions include:

  1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  2. Market Research
  3. Research & Development (R&D)
  4. Customer Service

Customer Department--Customer Centric Organization

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Traditionally, the CRM function belongs to the Information Technology Department owing to the technicalities involved in managing the CRM systems. The function demands evaluating the customer requirements and behaviors—which is a core function of the Customer Department alongside gathering and analyzing data necessary to execute a customer-development strategy.

Market Research

In customer-centric organizations, the Market Research function goes all the way from the marketing unit to other units that deal with customers—e.g., Finance for payments, Distribution for delivery. These organizations take a more granular view of customers’ behaviors, and gather and incorporate clients’ feedback to further improve customer lifetime value and equity.

Research & Development (R&D)

The R&D function should also report to the Customer Department, as, nowadays, the traditional R&D-driven new product development models are conceding to creative collaboration between the client (users) and producers. It’s not a good idea anymore to pack tons of features into a product and cause feature fatigue to customers. What’s more appropriate is to seek and incorporate customers’ input into product features by involving them into the product design process.

Customer Service (CS)

CS is another function that should be handled by the Customer Department to guarantee quality of service and to nurture long-term relationships. This important function isn’t worth outsourcing overseas as this often causes negative impact to the clients and organizations alike, due to poor customer service.

Interested in learning more about Customer Metrics, Customer Department, and Customer-centric Organizations? You can download an editable PowerPoint on Customer-centric Organizations: The Customer Department here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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