High performing enterprises help customers achieve their goals.
One of the core values that has driven Agile organizations since 2001 is the importance of customer collaboration–putting the customer first, satisfying customer needs with tangible whole bites of deliverables that they can evaluate earlier than ever before. Those core principles still drive high-performing agile enterprises today.
It’s easy to get disconnected from customers within a global enterprise.
Many of us also know that it can be easy to get disconnected from customers when working within a large enterprise. Size and distribution of employees, business partners and customers make it easier to lose sight of customers’ needs or to end up in silos, unable to collaborate optimally to meet customers’ needs.
Enterprise size and distribution can create barriers to customers.
The sheer size and organization of an enterprise has the potential to create disconnects. An executive within a large-scale, global enterprise may lead more than 13 levels of employees. Enterprises may have tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people. It’s very easy for leaders, the people that report to them, and learning teams within an enterprise to work in isolation from customers, not reflecting on what, if any, impact a learning program or effort will actually have… eventually… on customers.
“Shareholder value” creates barriers to meeting customers’ needs.
A focus on shareholder value (stock prices) has led many enterprises to engage in short-term thinking that creates a chasm between employee focus and the needs of the customers they serve. Steve Denning has written extensively on this topic. Mindsets have been shifting as some large enterprises have reaped the consequences of focusing on shareholder value, rather than delighting their customers.
Ask, “Is this something that would help our clients meet their goals?”
Often, valuable knowledge that could benefit customers is shared only internally between staff. If you have one environment where you’re focused on internal questions and answers, and that environment is disconnected from the support and communications that you are funneling to your customers, you may be missing out on a great opportunity to better serve your clients.
This was the case with one enterprise community of practice. Internally, they had great conversations around practices and tooling, and Q&A sessions. Eventually, the teams came to realize that their customers were asking the same questions and that the information was trapped in internal enterprise repositories. They eventually took the opportunity to set up an external community to increase customer collaboration and enabled their customers to benefit from what we had learned internally.
Dark Learning considers the needs of the end customer first.
Dark Learning asks, “How can this new knowledge, behavior or skill benefit our customers?” Perhaps the enterprise needs to change the flow of knowledge or how that knowledge is handled within the organization, so that we can more transparently (with less effort) increase the value delivered to their customers.
Dark Learning asks, “How might this particular approach adversely impact customers?”
Beyond that, we want to make sure that customers will not be adversely impacted by learning. How can that possibly happen, you might ask? If a customer has an immediate need for learning and you take days and hours, weeks and months to get them a really shiny, beautiful, professional course with all the bells and whistles….yes, you’ll have a stunning work of art that might look snazzy in your portfolio… But, if they weren’t able to get their job done in the meantime, you have harmed the client or possibly others who would have benefited from more timely enablement.