You are on page 1of 3

Expert Opinion

Date: 08/19/2011 Issue: August 2011 People: William Seidman, Michael McCauley Content Channel: Customer Strategy

AShortcuttoCustomerCentricity
Itspossibletocreateacustomercentricorganizationwithoutusinganemployeeassessmentand competenciesmethodology. Aseniormanagerwasrecentlyappointedresponsibilityfortransformingthecultureofateamof2,000 salesrepresentativesfromaproductdriventohighlycustomercentric.Sheusedthefollowingto conductanorganizationalassessmenttodefinethecurrentanddesiredfuturestatesof"customer centricity": 1. Convertedthisanalysisintoalistof14criticalcustomercentric"competencies" 2. Createdanonlineindividual"skills"assessmenttoolthatexaminedeachsalesperson's competenciesandidentified"areasneedingimprovement" 3. Developedatrainingprogramconsistingprimarilyofshortonlinecoursesandafewinstructor ledcoursesdesignedtoaddressthecompetenciesneedingimprovement 4. Promisedrewardstothosewhofollowedtheprogramwhile"performancemanagement"was impliedforthosewhodidnotfollowit Manyorganizationsuseasimilarmethodologybasedonassessmentsandcompetenciesasthestandard approachfordevelopingcustomercentricenvironments. However,significantrecentadvancesinneuroscienceresearchshowthatthecoreofthismodel assessmentsandcompetencyfocusedtrainingmayactuallybedetrimentaltoimproving organizationalperformance.Thisnewsciencedemonstratesthat,atthelevelofbrainfunction,such "remedialmodels"ofchangeproduceundesirableresults. Instead,"affirmative"modelsofchangeareemergingthatarefarmoreeffectiveatdrivingcustomer centricity.Affirmativemodelsrelyonthedevelopmentandproliferationofpositiveimagesofbeing customerfocusedandhavebeenusedsuccessfullybythousandsofpeopleinhundredsofcompanies.

Assessmentswirenegativeneuralpatterns
Neuroscienceresearchhasshownthatthemostfundamentalbuildingblockoflearningis"neuronsthat firetogetherwiretogether."Alllearningisthedevelopmentoflinkagesbetweenneuronsthatoccurs withfrequentmentalrepetition. 1|P a g e

Becausemostassessmentsaredesignedtoidentifyindividualandorganizationaldeficitssotheycanbe "fixed"(hencethetermremedial),assessmentsdriverepetitionofwhatisbeingdonewrong.Thisfocus onwhatisbeingdonewrong(i.e.somethingotherthanbeingcustomercentric),packsneuronsaround theundesirableattitudesandbehaviors,whichmakesthemstrongerandhardertochange. Inaddition,thereisevidencethatthenegativefeedbackthattypicallyaccompaniesassessments(i.e. thepersonisdeficientinacompetencyareaandisthereforeobviouslydoingsomethingwrong)can causethereleaseofneuralchemicalsassociatedwith"fightorflight"behavior.Thisfearreaction generatesstillmoreresistancetochange.Fromaneuroscienceperspective,thereisstrongevidence thatassessmentsaboutcustomercentricityhavetheundesirableeffectofincreasingresistancetobeing customerfocused.

Competenciesmisspassion
Similarissuesexistwithcompetencytraining.Thebasicpremiseof"competencytraining"isthatall functionscanbereducedtoadefinedsetofcapabilitiesthatarediscretelyidentified,completely described,andfullyaddressedthroughtrainingorcoaching. However,workwithpositivedeviants,aswellasneuroscienceresearchonmotivation,indicatesthat havingastrong"purpose"isthefoundationforsuperiorperformance."Purpose"isacommitmentto achievingasignificantsocialgood,suchasincreasedvalueforthecustomer,thatisbigandexciting enoughtogeneratesubstantialpassion. Competencyanalysesandtheresultingtraining,incontrast,tendtofocusonwhatisobservableand tangible,omittingpurposeingeneralandspecificallythepassionassociatedwithacommitmentto achievingasocialgoodforthecustomer.Competenciesconsistentlymisstheelementsessentialfor customercentricity.

Affirmativechange
Fortunately,thissameneuroscience,inconjunctionwithotherresearchandtechnology,hasledtothe developmentofexcellentalternativestoassessmentsandcompetencytrainingcalledAffirmative modelsofchangethatareparticularlypowerfulindevelopingcustomercentricenvironments. Affirmativemodelsdefineandcontinuouslymovetowardapowerful,comprehensive,positiveimageof customersuccessthatisparticularlyeffectiveatimprovingperformance.Morespecifically,in AffirmativeChange: "Positivedeviants"quicklyandeffectivelydefinepositiveimagesofthedesiredfocuson customers "Fairprocess"isusedtoincreaseparticipants'senseofhonoranddignitybyshowingeveryone thattheytoocanbecustomercentricpositivedeviants

2|P a g e

Theneuroscienceofpositivevisualizationisusedtoguidethespoken,written,andteam understandingandapplicationofpositivedeviantknowledge,whichdrivesthereleaseof neurotransmittersassociatedwithimprovedperformance Thenotionof"neuronsthatfiretogetherwiretogether"guidesdevelopmentanduseof learningactivitiesthatpromotelongterminternalization

Affirmativechangeguideslargenumbersofpeopletoadoptanddisplaycustomercentricattitudesand behaviorsmorequicklyandeffectivelythanwaspreviouslythoughtpossible.
+++++++

AbouttheAuthors:WilliamSeidman,Ph.D.,isCEOofCerebyte;MichaelMcCauleyisvicepresidentof Cerebyte

3|P a g e