Forget centricity and focus on enablement

Summary : will tomorrow’s businesses be people centric ? Customer centric ? Rethinking centricity shows that organizations are paying more and more attention to others and aren’t focused on themselves anymore. But it’s very easy to have good intentions…and never do beyond this step. Listen, leave others some room, pay attention…and so what ? If we want these new postures to have concrete effects we need more than a new vision of the relationship between stakeholders and the place each of them deserves. People, employees or customers, should be enabled to do things, take initiatives in this new context. What implies deeper changes than a new posture.

We’re being told, again and again that organizations should become people centric. In other words, that they should put their employees in their center. For others, the solution is customer centricity. So, what kind of centricity should businesses adopt ? And, by the way, should they adopt any ? Is this the right point ?

It’s easy to use trendy concepts, full of good intentions but with a very unclear idea of what they mean from a concrete and operational standpoint.

Does being “something centric” mean that one pays a special attention to someone else ? Being more listening ? That’s nice but everyday we get evidences that listening does not always means “taking into account and acting”. Does it only mean that instead of being a simple user of any communication tool, we’ll have the ability to have a profile that will help us to exist and speak ?

In short, for many observers, it all looks like being about good intentions…and wishful thinking. I look at you, you look at me, I say “you matter for me”. And so what ? What does it change on what happens, on what’s done ?

If businesses have such concerns it’s because they think in terms of value creation and operation effectiveness. And the time is near when they’ll realize that letting people speak, listening, allowing customers and employees to have a digital existence in their ecosystem did not improve things that much. As a matter of fact, beyond attention and conversation there’s a need for enablement.

For the customers that, in a service approach, are less and less passive but play a role in the design and the delivery of what they buy. For employees that may be able to make instant decisions, solve a problem without having the time to forward it and wait for a couple of days that some eventually takes it in charge, provides a solution while customers are expecting answers right here, right now;

So, behind the idea of centricity that may make people think that listening and having good intentions is enough, lies the need for a deeper change to make organizations more enabling or empowering. Better relationships and exchanges are worthless if the people involved can’t act upon what they learn through conversations. That’s about new processes, a relevant management model, culture and, in the end, tools that make it possible. That’s much more engaging that being simply ‘centric’ because it not only about attention and intention but about action.

Being customer or people centric is an idea. A posture. Becoming an empowering or enabling organization is a deeper challenge but the only that will really help to create value for both the business and its customers.


Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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