Crossing The Line
Last week while at a concert in our little town we ran into an old acquaintance, who I did not recognize at first. This was because she had lost a little over half of her body weight since the last time we saw her. It was an amazing transformation – one that she was both proud of, but yet modest regarding the success of the feat.
If you want to lose weight, one of the best techniques, which you might not hear about from the folks who want you to buy low calorie / high margin meals, is to set a weight-loss goal that includes both the number of pounds or kilograms to lose and by what date. It also helps to have a personal motive that corresponds with that goal, such as fitting into a bathing suit prior to a long awaited cruise.
What I have learned over the years about effective strategic planning it that it works the same way. You set up a target to be achieved by a certain date and have it tied very strongly to an important business gain. This is pretty straight forward stuff. Yet, an important lesson I gained early on in my career was from a colleague who observed that a good strategy means you have to choose an end state that is different from your current state. This may seem obvious, but it is a really key concept. It means that a good strategy requires that you declare that where you are today is not good enough – you have to change.
Effective strategic planning demands that you have to work toward a place you are not currently – you have to be dissatisfied with where you are. But, it also requires that you then have to take action to get to the new end point. This of course is where so many people fail at weight loss – I don’t believe I can get there so I won’t take the steps to get there, and then I’ll eventually stop setting the goals and just pretend I am happy with where I am. This again parallels the strategic planning process – you have to choose a strategic end state that requires you make effort to achieve – you have to work to achieve a change.
So, my question is, if you have to change in order to have a good strategic plan, when does the execution of that plan cross over from simple implementation of the plan and into the notion of business transformation. The old acquaintance of ours had truly gone through a transformation – she appeared to us as a different person. Does this mean that business transformation demands that you must become a different company at the end of the process? I am going to cut to the chase on this – I don’t have the answer. I don’t know when you cross the line from simple execution and into business transformation.
Your question at this point, and I acknowledge that it is a legitimate question; what possible difference does it make? My suspicion is that there are two camps of thinking with regard to the answer. One camp is that simple execution requires a different level of effort than business transformation. The latter requires more focus on the change. This follows the line of thinking that losing 10 pounds requires a different approach than losing 110.
A second school of thought is that everything is business transformation when it comes to effective strategic planning. The logic would be similar to the idea that if you want to lose 10 pounds you have to make some changes, otherwise you are going to gain the 10 pounds back in a few weeks. Likewise, if you are truly building an effective strategic plan, you need to set a target that requires you to change, to achieve something that you are not going to achieve anyway (this is the crux of the folly for many strategic plans).
Bringing this back to CRM, specifically, if you want your CRM program to make a difference, you will need to make some changes. You need to introduce best practices, you need to ask for new behavior, you must expect that technology will be used in new ways (for example, see my recent posting on Social CRM).
Well, I guess then that begs the question, does every good CRM strategy require that you take a business transformation approach and not just a simple execution of planned tactics? I am going to go out on a limb and get radical with a, yes, as the answer. Successful CRM initiatives require real change, not just what will happen if you go with inertia to carry you forward. Do you need to lose half your body weight to be considered successful? Absolutely not. Would a 50% drop in the amount of time that deals hover at stage 3 be considered a big success? Absolutely!
I don’t know about you, but all this talk about dieting is making me hungry.