Modernize Leadership: Detect and Disseminate


In a previous post, I described how today’s management techniques reflect outdated assumptions of technology-enabled practices, human behavior, and the meaning of success. That’s why organizations must shift to what I’m calling Modernize Leadership.

I’m writing individual posts for each of the eight key changes required to modernize leadership. In this post, I’m examining one of them, the shift from:

Amass and Review to Detect and Disseminate

Here’s some more information to better understand this shift:

Outdated Thinking
Here are some ways in which leaders must change how they view the world:

  • Leaders rely on periodic, deep understanding of the business. But the pace of change is increasing, and that point-in-time understanding of the past does not always provide a meaningful view of the future, or even how to compete in the present. Leaders need a more continuous set of insights.
  • Leaders often act as if customer insights are difficult to gather, so they periodically ask for a large project to provide a Powerpoint-dump to their executive teams. But current technology allows for more ongoing collection and presentation of insights.
  • Customer insights teams are required to focus many of their resources on the needs of the leadership team, providing support for a few key decisions. At the same time, a myriad of decisions across the organization are being made without the benefit of strong customer insights.
  • Customer insights teams aim to provide “statistically significant” insights, requiring large datasets and extensive timeframes for collecting data. But it takes only a few datapoints to create actionable insights when they are presented to employees across the business who have more context about the business.

Galileo Galilei, the father of the scientific method, once said:

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.”

Modernized Leadership Actions
Here are some ways in which leaders should act based on a modernized perspective:

  • Build a customer insight backbone. Given the state of technology, companies need to stop viewing customer insight as a set of market research projects and see it as a core organizational infrastructure. That’s why companies need to build what we defined in 2010 as customer insight & action (CIA) platforms. The goal should be to enable a continuous flow of customer-insightful decisions.
  • Distribute role-based insights. All employees make decisions on a regular basis, and many of those would be improved with a deeper understanding of customers. But distributing a common set of monthly Powerpoint slides is not the answer. Engineering teams, for instance, don’t need the same information as the legal department. Companies must tailor insights for each organization to provide the right information at the right time to fuel the decisions that are being made by employees with different roles.
  • Tap into the power of context. While analysis of large datasets may be great, people across an organization can often act on smaller timely nuggets of data. A call center supervisor, for instance, only needs to see one negative piece of customer feedback to kick off a coaching session if she is already concerned about that phone rep. These relevant datapoints fuel what we call contextual insights.
  • Raise all employees’ customer-awareness. Since insights can be more easily distributed, leaders should look for ways to tap into the insights in order to make everyone in their organization more aware of (and empathetic to) customers’ needs and perceptions.

The bottom line: Turn customer insight into a continuous, distributed capability.

About Bruce Temkin, CCXP
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

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