Want to Get Things Done in Your Organization? Follow the Maverick.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
Confession: I have a special place in my heart for mavericks. They seem to thrive on change in their personal and professional lives. Even more than that, mavericks seem driven to pursue change when it relates to things they’re passionate about; things they believe in with all of their might. And in doing so, mavericks also seem to get things done. Some mavericks are born but many are made – just by following other mavericks. In the customer reference and customer leverage arena, mavericks are few and far in between; perhaps because the field is still new and growing. But they’re out there. And their common characteristics, motivations and modi operandi are yours to emulate at will. After all, there’s no copyright on passion. There’s no copyright on pursuing what you believe in. A Snapshot: Attributes of the Customer–Focused Maverick What’s a customer-focused maverick look like? Which characteristics, motivations and methods might you, yourself, follow to get things done in your reference organization? By emulating the following maverick attributes, you will, like a few mavericks I know, start to see things happen in your organization. You’ll start to get things done. 1. Passion. The customer-centered maverick intensely believes that what she wants to see happen is truly in the best interests of her company’s customers. No budget? No headcount? No time? Doesn’t matter. Nothing changes the fact that what she wants to do – that what she knows ultimately must happen – will be best for her company and its customers. Even despite yet another denied request, even while churning out success story after success story, the customer maverick’s passion never falters; her dream of better things does not die. 2. Ownership: The customer maverick also takes ownership of everything customer, without stepping on toes. She proactively looks for gaps to fill, for opportunities to grasp, for chances to make the voice of the customer heard. She knows each customer interaction should be leading to more than another success story; it should be leading to a sound customer relationship that both the customer and company can leverage later. She continually brings customer gems to the company, whether it chooses to use them or not. For she knows that, in time, if she is humbly yet persistently vocal, her voice – the voice of the customer – will be heard. Soon, she will be recognized as a thought leader. She will find that others in the company turn to her for her treasury of customer gems. 3. Experimentation: The customer maverick says, "Act now; apologize later." She doesn’t rely on management to see the value in her customer–centric ideas. Instead, she experiments. She observes, hypothesizes, predicts, tests and draws conclusions. And when those conclusions support the success of her company and customers, she pilots her theory, proves its value – and then asks for budget. 4. Risk: The customer maverick does not shy from risk. She doesn’t wait to be given a seat at the strategy table – she takes it. She realizes that bringing her ideas, her passions, to life is hard work, but work well-worth it. She doesn’t expect good things to happen for her, and for her customers, just because she’s nice. She acts on what she believes. She fears inaction. She fears maintaining the status quo. Her motto, like the motto of my favorite maverick, is something along the lines of "If you do it, then it is." If you have a passion for customers, if you take ownership of all things customer, if you experiment and prove value, if you take the risk – you’ll do what my favorite maverick did: he moved his reference organization from the basement to the strategy table in just a few years. This may sound conceptual to you. Theoretical. Motivational. To the latter, I would agree. But from my experience working with many enterprise companies, I tell you our most successful clients, those with the most successful reference and marketing programs, are those led by individuals who don’t wait to be given a charter. They create one. They don’t wait for management to find out how important customers are. They illustrate that fact to them consistently. Those programs that succeed – those that enjoy the benefits of customer leverage – are those powered by individuals who recognize what needs to happen, and who take action to make it so. Promise Phelon, Partner email@example.com