Think 2.0 and search for your client

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In the “how to  build enterprise 2.0” or “how to make management 2.0 happen in the workplace” series (which is not always the same thing) I think that before defining any action plan it’s important to understand the logic underneath. As a matter of fact, it’s impossible to bring anyone to do anything if he can’t understand the logic. What has to be done to make things change is known by everybody, it’s nothing but classical change management actions, but many people still refuse to consider them and keep on asking “how” because what they’re being proposed is out of their logic. And since there is no blinder person than the one who doesn’t want to see..

Many blocks are related to questions such as “who can”, “who has the right to”, “who leads”, “who commands”, “who controls”, “who validates”… The matter is not to suscribe to any theory of the organizations but to know what is effective.

Let’s consider things from the beginning.

The purpose of any company is to make money. It’s a given fact.

In order to achieve it, it has clients to whom it sells products and services. Many things can be done to optimize internal operations, everyone’s productivity, hourly costs, unit costs, these are nothing but abstract indicators, the only important one being what the clients actually pay. If this incoming flow tends towards zero, internal operational improvements will be useless : the company will die whatever its productivity could be. Being efficient to produce at an unbeatable cost something nobody buys has no impact. Indicators are used to pilot, but the only tangible data is the incoming cash. This is the constraint of whatever can be done internally.

That means that what doesn’t contribute to satisfy the client’s needs is useless. Or, seen from another point of view, that everything that is undertaken must fulfill this condition. Many improvements that are done to internal operations don’t improve anything at the end because they are no related to anything valuable for the clients, or doesn’t realize their full potential because what is sold is under the overall capacity of production. (Keep in mind the symplifying example of an unit that increases its productivity by 20% while units further down the line have lower capacities and/or the final production is not sold..)

Satisfying a client means :

• Having an unrefusable offer

• Maximizing the value that’s delivered in order to retain the client and make even more business with him

Let me also add that, on top of external clients, every employee also has internal ones. As a matter of fact the client’s demand climbs up the production chain, so, serving the colleague that is between anyone and the final client means serving the client himself. This sounds obvious, but the facts are very different.

If we try to answer honnestly, do we have the impression that everything employees undertake is client oriented ? Or does it tend to serve and satisfy someone that is not the client ? Can’t we say that in many cases, employees are asked to serve colleagues further down the line who themselves serve the client or the other part of the production line ? In brief, are things done in order to make employees contribute to value creation by serving the clients (internal or external) or are they told to focus on their manager’s need ?

If the top management was aligned with client’s needs this would not be a concern. But is the reality like this ?

Companies seldom understand the concept of “bottom up” and consider it as a threat to the hierarchical model and a fight for power although it’s about concretely aligning operations with the client’s needs and increase value creation. Hierarchy is not the problem because it’s needed to make major decisions and provide the whole system with a coherent framework. Bottom-up models, when they are operational models, are a good thing. It’s a bad thing only when it is a political posture.

So let’s draw the consequences of this need to serve the clients instead of the superiors, in terms of workflow and information / instructions flow and the “how to implement enterprise 2.0” question will be partly solved.