• February 2, 2003
  • By Paul Greenberg, founder and managing principal, The 56 Group

Making CRM Whole-Brained

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If you think about it, doing great business takes both halves of your brain. The left and right brain act in concert, providing those sweet, harmonious thoughts that can lead to a "Whoa! Great idea!" But those halves, the left brain and the right brain, are (theoretically) doing different things. Traditionally, the left brain is the repository for Mensa stereotypes. Mathematical reasoning and other forms of logic reside there in linear harmony or, perhaps even in truly advanced cubic peace. The right brain is associated more with creative and holistic thinkers like the Frida Kahlos and Eminems, or for you less edgy types, the Shakespeares and the Rodgers and Hammersteins. But neither brain half is successful by itself, because true creative reasoning involves an as yet unmastered harmony between both left- and right-brained processes. Sadly, CRM has been viewed pretty much entirely on the left-brain side throughout its history. Benchmarks, metrics, and ROI have been the unreconstructed left-siders' hosannas for successful CRM implementations. In fact, if you think about it, the mantra of the typical CRM apologist is "it isn't a technology, it is a system." Correct, if you view CRM through the sunglasses of statistical measurement. Wrong, if you realize that CRM is much more than that if you take into account its right-brained features. Why are those right-brained attributes so ignored? First, right-brained CRM incorporates major cultural change as an element of success. Think about it: You are considering CRM because you've reached a limit or you're dysfunctional or you want more than incremental improvement. That means the way you do business needs to be changed. That means the people in your company who are doing business "that way" (the pre--CRM way) have to change what they do, how they think, and what they perceive to be in their best interests. So right-brained CRM incorporates those people into the planning process at all levels of strategy and tactics--these empowered natural leaders, not just senior management. Right-brained CRM involves serious change management, not lip service to it--with an organizational change-management system in place from inception. It involves performance support systems throughout the implementation, including ongoing interactive user involvement and changes throughout the entire implementation, up to and including the training. The training is no longer a knowledge dump, but a learning management system that continues and evolves even after the rollout is completed. Additionally, right-brain CRM identifies the true metric for success: the consideration of the individual interest of the user. Not the corporate interest, not the departmental interest, not the senior management interest, but the singular interest of the sole CRM consumer. While this is actually satisfaction of the commonwealth, because you can't please everyone, at least it takes into account that human beings--employees, customers, vendors, and partners--all use this system and that they are individuals, not just business categories. So how is whole-brained CRM defined? CRM is a philosophy and business strategy supported by a system and technology to improve human interactions in a business environment. What do you think of that? (With both hemispheres that is...) Paul Greenberg is president of The 56 Group, an enterprise applications consultancy specializing in CRM, and author of CRM at the Speed of Light: Capturing and Keeping Customer in Internet Real Time. Contact him at paul-greenberg3@comcast.net
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