Left brain – right brain and CRM user adoption…


Share on LinkedIn

In my last post about getting people to use CRM systems I asked for input on anything people felt I’d missed, and I had a great response from Michael Whitlow at CRT/Tanaka. I hadn’t thought about difference in left brain/ right brain people before, but it’s an interesting point. I would also agree that there are companies that just don’t have it in their DNA to meaningfully implement CRM technology. Anyway, his email is reproduced below with his permission:

‘I’ve spent a lot of time in my career in the company of engineers, and learned a great deal from them. To this day, my ability to engage the left brain is probably less than one-tenth the capacity of the average engineer’s, but that still puts me in an interesting position to observe behavior of my colleagues in the PR firm. I think the “right-brainedness” of the potential adopters can be a significant negative factor to CRM adoption.<?xml:namespace prefix = o />

While I’m not prepared to postulate that all members of the creative class will uniformly reject CRM as too constraining, too repetitive or too “whatever…,” I will say that our experiments with systems and processes to support our teams have seen mixed results. We all enter our time on each engagement, but there’s always some end-of-month threatening required to complete the time sheets for billing for about 10% of our billable employees. The inclination to enter the data required to make a CRM system work effectively is not a core competency for the average right-brainer, either, and we recently abandoned a Sharepoint-based CRM process for this reason.

So, to add to your list, I’d say start the process by knowing your targets and their strengths. If there is very little process in the business and little inclination on the part of team members to adopt processes, then there’s not much real hope for CRM, I’d guess. The organization must have been built on other strengths. On the other hand, businesses that have good process strengths are probably good targets for the discipline of CRM.

The ideal CRM for a right-brained person would be one in which any data entry is telepathic, requiring no effort to fill out a form or sort a spreadsheet or look up a contact name and address (or, perish the thought, to enter any data twice). Since there are a lot of service firms filled with left brainers, I think most service CRM approaches have focused on them. PR, Advertising, Social Media, Interactive firms? Not so much. We have traditionally employed people to be the designated left brainers – traffic managers, production managers, etc. They are called upon to take on the sometimes Herculean task of pushing creatives to accomplish our work on a schedule – even the work we love! Having been the designated traffic manager on a CRM approach, I can report that it’s much harder to get creatives to accomplish good CRM.

Wonder how others feel about this question of whether you can teach the right-brain dominated the virtues of process and have teams of such folks really use processes to improve their lives and the success of their enterprises?’

Republished with author's permission from original post.


  1. Hello,
    I was drawn to your post because last week I recorded a podcast with Dave Stein on ‘what makes the perfect sales person’. During our conversation Dave makes the point that sales people are typically right brain people.

    I hadn’t thought of how this very likely therefore also affects the willingness and ability to engage with CRM activity. Products like Dealmaker from The TAS Group hopefully go some way to helping right brained people see the value of data entry and free up time for more creative right brain actions.

    You can listen to the podcast at http://bit.ly/aNhl3y.

    Thanks for the interesting post.



Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here