How To Get Your Client To Plan For Cultural Transformation

As organizations realize that their customers hold control over their brand conversation, and harnessing the knowledge both from, and about their stakeholders is the smart and truly sustainable way forward, but the manner in which they respond is key.

Twitter chats such as #smchat and #innochat deal with these topics all the time. Much wisdom and debate is shared within the chats. The consensus appears to be that ‘Corporate Culture’ plays a pivotal role.

This reminds me of a joke:

  • Q:  “How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?”
  • A: “One, but the light bulb must really want to change.”

I fast-forwarded to the end.

Here is how I got there:

Philosophy meets Process

There is much debate around what Social Customer Relationship Management (SCRM) is. Paul Greenburg’s brain structures the approach to SCRM wonderfully. His ‘10,000’ hours on the subject show.

“Social CRM is a philosophy and a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, processes and social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted and transparent business environment. It is the company’s programmatic response to the customer’s control of the conversation.” Paul Greenburg July 2010

The elements of his definition bring it all together nicely. Reading Paul’s framing thoughts you can feel his frustration. He would rather we all got on with working towards realizing the elements of a SCRM that are relevant to us, instead of debating semantics.  Fair point.

We at tcg: thecommunicationgroup talk SCMR, but have been reluctant to publically use the label. Getting involved in the debate can distract from the doing and the learning through doing. If we were to point at a definition, Paul’s would be it, not so much because of the words he has used, but because of the reasoning behind them. Hat’s off to Paul for doing and saying.

I know I harp on about the short-cut culture, the tips and tricks brigade, etc.  We are suckers for anything that promises to cut our workload, get us more exposure, increase our following … “and it’s practically for nothing”. I am all for solid process and best practices but it needs to be aligned to strategy, quantifiable objectives and in the context of the big picture. I do not mind if something is going to cost me something as long as I can realize a return. I think it‘s called investment. Implementing a SCRM strategy is not a shortcut. It holds no hidden secrets, no tricks. It involves whole system thinking and participation. It is as much structure as it is philosophy.

The way an organization approaches a move towards SCRM is as important as the technology it invests in. If an organization does not invest in shifting the way it works, the way it thinks, the way it evolves…no amount of technology, tricks or tips are going to bring around a meaningful transformation. When we were working with Cisco on their Channel Partner Relationship Management three years ago we saw many of these concepts play out successfully. Cisco were committed to the organizational change that accompanied the technical changes. Lots has changed since then, but Cisco continues to adapt due to their organizational philosophy.

Of course this is easier said than done. We cannot only blame organizational culture for the lack of progress and adaption to SCRM. We – the people who talk about it and offer our time and services to implement this for organizations – need to play our part, too. It is not unreasonable for companies to request data and details that will enable them to understand the level of investment needed and the expected return on that investment. It is our duty and responsibility to provide them with this information by incorporating cultural transformation within the project resource allocation, process and budget.

SCRM and cultural transformation are complex and I know I haven’t exhausted the topics. There are so many opinions and levels that I know you have something to say. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Photo by Mandaloo