Traditionally, technologists sat behind an organisation’s IT department walls. When they delivered technology to the designated specification, they considered their job done. Lean, in its pure form, changed this entirely, and its legacy, can be felt in current change methods that recognise the importance of front-line staff and their engagement with customers.When technical teams see how the IT they are supplying is actually performing, they are able to obtain a much greater insight into how the company’s technologies may be underperforming, as well as ideas about new features which could be added to improve it.
By involving not just service delivery managers, but the whole delivery chain, the entire organisation benefits from a heightened awareness of what its customers really want and need. In this new scenario, there is also a much greater level of customer intimacy than would be evident in a traditional technology business. For IT businesses, adapting to change means locking onto the customer’s world in order to understand, in fine detail, the impact of its products and services.
Companies must start to ask: what are we learning about the customer’s world? And once they have this knowledge, they then need to ask is it being shared end to end across all different technology disciplines? Is it being shared with senior management so that together, they can develop an understanding of what it means for the business?
Leading is an activity, not a position.
When technical teams have a 360 degree view of their customer’s world, they can have a much higher degree of autonomy, so they can make decisions to fix customers’ problems and develop new solutions. This shift has a huge bearing on the role of senior management, whose job becomes much more about creating and sustaining the right environments. Leading is an activity, not a position and power must be shifted from the top of the organisation to much lower down, to the people who help deliver the day-to-day ‘nuts and bolts.'
Rather than keep staff within the tight constraints of frameworks involving delivering to a specification, looking at how products and services are delivered, how they can be improved, and how to go beyond specification is key and what being an adaptive organisation means. In order to do this, employees must feel free to engage with customers. This will give them a much greater sense of involvement; they take on more responsibility and they quite naturally start to make more decisions. Thus, their levels of learning and enthusiasm increase as well as the business's value creation and long-term profitability.
If you would like some advice on your organisation's customer-engagement strategy, get in touch for a free consultation.