Moving Beyond Corporate Silos – One Agenda

If great social interaction is all about being authentic, transparent and increasingly real time, some things need to change. For a start, how about greater collaboration amongst customer...

If great social interaction is all about being authentic, transparent and increasingly real time, some things need to change. For a start, how about greater collaboration amongst customer facing teams?

However, getting this to take root competes against a 100+ years of corporate habit and history. It’s a long-standing culture now cemented in place. With functional structures deeply embedded into the foundations of organisational behaviour. Put more simply, it’s going to take a while!

Martin Hill Wilson Our Social Times Amsterdam 26.06-002

This is a post by Martin Hill-Wilson, he’ll be speaking at our upcoming event, Social CRM Brussels. Read on for a flavour of Martin’s talk…

Meanwhile, what are the issues for those still wading through the treacle? Obviously Sales, Marketing and Service are major organisational touch points for customers. The level and quality of customer experience is largely determined through their actions.

Yet most organisations still allow these competencies to operate in silos. This makes them blind to opportunity and ignorant of their combined impact: one of the reasons why customers seek out social channels to make themselves heard.

If you are a small organisation or a very tightly integrated one, then maybe the walls between Sales, Marketing and Service remain semi-permeable. That necessary co-operation amongst those teams is still facilitated.

However, as a rule of thumb, the larger an organisation gets, the more it relies on organisation structure to scale. With that approach comes the seeding and generation of petty kingdoms. And before long, the sense of belonging to a company is only what’s printed on a business card. Instead, the individual experience is of pledging allegiance first to function, then to brand because that is where the dynamics of personal careers are played out.

One of the effects of a hundred years of fencing off internal teams is that there are now different tribes in each of the main customer facing functions. And tribes suggest unique cultures. Then layered on top of this natural instinct to see things differently and prioritise accordingly, are the carrot and stick of siloed organisational targets and incentives.

Add all this together and it is no surprise that “alignment”, a sense of “being on the same team”, a “readiness to collaborate” are not front of mind intentions within these functions. Even when their diplomatic representatives meet at executive level, it is often like national ministers mingling at an EU session!

If you want further proof ask the head hunters. What do they look for in a sales person, a Marketer or a great Customer Service person? They know candidates for these roles are quite different in competencies, aspiration, values; even dress code!

Further down the line, we might find this way of working quite strange. For instance, instead of three functional areas there might be just one. Let’s call it the Customer Team. Everyone who joins is inducted into the primary disciplines of Sales, Marketing and Service (now holistically joined at the hip). Thereafter each can specialise or remain a generalist. Either way, the team sees everything in the context of customer lifecycle and engagement.

So my point is this. While the big wheel turns and we wait for the blueprint of digital organisational life to arrive, we can try and speed things up.

Why One Agenda?

As customers have changed, so too have the demands on front line functions. Increasingly customers are proving themselves able to complete pre and post purchase tasks without their help. Given that, can we continue to work in silos with all the inherent inefficiencies and blind spots this creates?

The answer has to be no. So a new mission needs to emerge around a much more closely orchestrated approach to customer engagement. And this is where the notion of “One Agenda” comes in. It is a milestone. Someway down the road of a converged, aligned business. Or call it a ‘social business’ if that’s the language you prefer.

‘One Agenda’ is rooted in a simple observation that the best way to get different tribes to work together is unify their focus under a common agenda. It also has the virtue of being an easy idea to get across and get busy with.

I’m going to talk about how to get your own version of One Agenda up and running at the forthcoming social CRM conference in Brussels. If that’s not motivation enough, still check out the agenda here. It’s going to be fun. And you know how much you’ve been meaning to do some continental Christmas shopping! See you there.

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