When the Customer-Focused Journey Meets the Fiefdom Syndrome


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Your company’s dream-journey is to become Wall Streets next customer-centered poster child. Every technology vendor and consultant you engage with will want to share credit for the success of your customer-focused business model through documented case studies and white-papers. You’re sure to be on all the conference speaking tours. You’ll have heads nodding when the righteous song (you know … the right message, for the right product, for the right customer, through the right channel at the right time!) is played. You’ll know all the signs you are looking for when it comes to customer acquisition, growth and retention because you’ve defined your angel customers as well as your devil customers. You know the voice of your customer and can predict their actions because you have listening posts, net promoter scores, and predictive behavior algorithms. In addition, you can point with pride to your operational CRM, collaborative CRM, analytical CRM, strategic BI, tactical BI and operational BI fire power. There is probably a few scorecards, dashboards and a data warehouse in there as well … enterprise-wide, real-time, the whole nine yards. Let’s make sure we mention that your supply chain is connected to your demand chain. (Just for fun, if you are playing buzz-word bingo with this post do you have a winning card yet?!)

Gee, so why is this dream-journey taking so long? Those pesky passengers you had to pick up on Wall Street at the beginning of this journey keep asking “are we there yet?!” Come to think it, your customer’s often ask the same question!

Well, information is power. And what you didn’t count on was the degree to which people, (including your team), would go to defend their power and turf. All that new and valuable information is intoxicating and down deep humans really don’t like to share. In Robert J. Herbold’s book “The Fiefdom Syndrome” the author addresses the turf battles that often undermine company strategies; and your customer-focused strategy is not exempt from those battles. The author points out those fiefdoms tend to hoard and hide their data in order to reflect the view that puts them in the best light. When it comes to your customer-focused journey, the discipline of making data available across the entire organization is an element you cannot give up on.

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