60. Time Management Funnel

Key Definitions

In most countries an official working week is 40 hours, but few managers are able to squeeze all their activities into this limited timeframe. Most managers end up laboring longer hours and even then their work isn’t finished, but they run out of time, energy and/or attention.

Time management is the process of consciously allocating time as a scarce resource, investing it into activities that will give the most attractive returns, while not overspending time on work, to the detriment of one’s family, friends, health, and other endeavors.

Conceptual Model

The Time Management Funnel gives an overview of the three steps that can be taken to limit the amount of time that managers need to invest in work. The assumption is that managers have fewer hours available than demanded, so they need to filter and squeeze activities to fit within their “time budget”. Demands for time will come from the external and organizational conditions surrounding managers but will also depend on their specific ambitions (strategic and operational goals). Managers should start by limiting their long list of potential activities, by filtering out the low value drains on time. Then they should limit their short list, by prioritizing the highest value ones. Finally, they should limit task time, by working more efficiently.

Key Elements

The five parts of the time management funnel are the following:

  1. To first way to limit the long list of activities is to delegate as many tasks as possible to others and then limit the amount of “vertical” control needed to ensure that this work is carried out correctly. This means making sure that colleagues are hired, trained, and retained who are capable of taking on significant responsibilities independently, and then going through the Empowerment Cycle (see model 21) to quickly build their autonomy.
  2. The second timesaver is to limit the complexity of the organization by reducing the number of interfaces and alignments. This can be done by creating small separate teams with the freedom to run end-to-end processes independently, instead of having large teams that need a lot of internal coordination, that in turn need to coordinate with other teams. All forms of “horizontal” alignment burn through management time at a high rate.
  3. Streamline. The third way to compress the long list is to limit the number of steps and stakeholders in decision-making processes. Each extra cook in the kitchen increases the amount of discussion time needed exponentially, while each extra quality check creates additional bureaucracy. By streamlining decision-making to a few people and a few steps, 80% quality can be achieved in only 20% of the regular time, which is usually good enough.
  4. Prioritize. Even if the long list of potential tasks is reduced to a much shorter one, it is still important to rank the remaining tasks and focus on the key ones. In the Fruits & Nuts Matrix (model 26) this prioritizing was done along two dimensions, first distinguishing which activities will have the highest impact, and then identifying how much effort each activity will require. The low hanging fruit (high impact, low effort) should usually be done first.
  5. Accelerate. Finally, it is also important to use time efficiently, by speeding up activity execution. Important ways to accelerate include not overengineering an outcome (avoiding perfectionism in favor of “good enough”) yet getting most things right the first time around (avoiding constant repair work). Also, not multi-tasking (focus on one task at a time) yet being quick at switching to a next task (redirecting focus).

Key Insights

 

 

59. Digitalization Staircase

Key Definitions

Digitalization is the process of using digital means to change activities that were previously carried out physically or using analogue technology. These digital means include IT hardware (equipment such as computers, mobile phones, and robots), software (programs such as operating systems, applications, and artificial intelligence) and connectivity (interaction methods such as the internet, 5G, and near field communication).

Digitalization can be applied to a single activity (e.g. printing a letter instead of typing one), to a workflow of activities (e.g. tracking inventory with an ERP system instead using paper records), to a value proposition (e.g. using banking apps instead of branch offices) and even the entire business (e.g. running a platform instead of a physical store).

Conceptual Model

The Digitalization Staircase gives insight into four categories of digitalization and the potential benefits that can be gained as the ‘staircase’ is ascended. The higher up one goes, the more competitive value the move is likely to create – from sustaining the current competitive position to disrupting the competitive game and building a new position. Yet, the higher one climbs, the larger the scale of change will be – from a modest transition to a full-scale transformation.

Key Elements

The four steps on the staircase are the following:

  1. Digital Automation. When single activities are performed by a machine without a direct human operator, it is called automation – traffic lights change, heating is turned on and a robot vacuum cleaner whizzes around. While some of this automation is possible using analogue technology, digital means are generally smaller, cheaper, and more powerful, hugely accelerating the process. The result is often that tasks can be carried out cheaper, faster, and more accurately/reliably than by manual means.
  2. Digital Process Transformation. When not just one, but a sequence activities, is digitalized, it is called digital process transformation – e.g. when the invoicing or quality control systems are digitalized. Generally, the activities are not automated separately, but the entire workflow is reconfigured, changing the shape and order of each activity. As with automation, the result is often lower cost, higher speed, and more accuracy, but also a process that is more convenient, more controlled, and leads to better quality.
  3. Digital Experience Transformation. When it is not only an internal process being digitalized, but also the externally oriented process of interacting with the customer somewhere during their customer journey, we speak of digital experience transformation. As with the previous steps on the stairs, the customer experience can be made cheaper, faster, more accurate, easier, more controlled, and of higher quality, but also more personalized, more integrated into a frictionless flow and overall, more enjoyable.
  4. Digital Business Transformation. When multiple internal and external processes are significantly changed by introducing a different business model based on digital means, it is called digital business transformation. Besides all of the previously mentioned strengths of digitalization, a business transformation can create an entirely distinct business model, potentially targeted at a specific market segment, while also building a unique competitive advantage that is dominant and very difficult for others to copy.

Key Insights

58. Leadership Circle Map

Key Definitions

Leadership is the art of seduction. It is the ability to get people to move in a certain direction – touching their hearts and minds in such a way that they willingly go along on the journey. To have such influence, it is essential to have some type of connection with the people you are trying to sway. In other words, leadership always takes place within the context of relationships.

As Covey (1989) remarked, leaders often have a wide circle of concern (issues/people they worry about), but a more restricted circle of influence (issues/people they can impact). Their potential influence is limited to the people with whom they have some sort of relationship.

Conceptual Model

The Leadership Circle Map is a tool for charting which people are within a leader’s circle of influence. In 360-degree fashion, a distinction is made between four different directions of connections (i.e., up, down, across and out), while a distinction is also made between three different levels of connection (i.e., inner circle, outer circle, and periphery). The map can be used to plot people’s current position and to plan for future investments in relationships.

Key Elements

The three levels of connection are the following:

  1. Reputation: Knows of You. The weakest type of connection is where people are aware of your existence and have heard certain things about you, leading them to have a picture of who you are. This reputation is also referred to as your leadership brand (see Meyer’s Management Model #18), as it is the image that you have projected, triggering expectations about your identity and probable actions. Your ability to influence people in this ring is limited to using mass media (e.g., presentations and publications) and exhibiting certain behaviors in public (e.g., leading by example and giving people recognition).
  2. Relation: Knows You. Once people actually get to know you directly, they move from your periphery to your outer circle – the connection shifts to the level of being a relation. Your potential to influence people in this ring is much higher, as you can interact directly with them, via dialogue and/or joint efforts, using a variety of leadership styles. Your sway will also be increased by building trust and credibility, as you deal with each other over a prolonged period of time (see Meyer’s Management Model #6). The relationship can be professional and transactional but can grow to become more personal and structural.
  3. Rapport: Close to You. As relationships grow tighter, stronger, more affective, and more lasting, they move from the outer to the inner circle – you develop rapport with your connection. This is a sense of mutual understanding, trust, and sympathy, leading to a warmer and easier interaction. Your potential to influence people in this ring is the largest, as there is a stronger emotional bond, level of commitment and feeling of safety, leading to a high willingness to listen to the other and accept their inputs. Such a relationship is often characterized as friendship and/or a feeling of being family.

Key Insights

57. MOVING Mission Framework

Key Definitions

A mission is the assignment that people embrace that propels them in a certain direction (from the Latin mittere – to send). It is a set of fundamental principles driving the organization forward – not a goal or a project to be accomplished, but a philosophy to live by. A mission doesn’t tell you where the voyage is headed, but why and how the voyage should be undertaken.

A mission will be inspiring if it touches people’s hearts and minds, giving them a sense of mission – a deeply held conviction that what they are doing is meaningful, valuable, and right, and therefore should be pursued, justifying the time, effort and resources being invested.

Conceptual Model

The MOVING Mission Framework outlines the four key elements that need to be defined to have a complete mission for an organization. At the heart is the organizational purpose (“why do we exist?”), surrounded by three fundamental types of guiding conditions (“how do we exist?”). Underneath are the six criteria that need to be met for a mission to be truly MOVING and to create a strong sense of mission among all organizational members.

Key Elements

The four building blocks of an inspiring organizational mission are the following:

  1. Organizational Purpose. While an organization’s vision should give an answer to the question “where are we going?”, the organization’s purpose should answer “why are we going?”. What function do we serve – who stands to gain from our existence and what would happen if the organization folded? What is the impact we seek to have?
  2. Business Definition. Besides the reason for being, there are also conditions of being, the first of which is to determine which types of activities fall within the embraced assignment and which are out of scope. What do we see as tasks belonging to who we are? And when do we regard something to be “not our business”, hence not worth further consideration?
  3. Organizational Values. The next set of conditions of being are the fundamental values that the organization wants to live by. Which attitudes and behaviors do we hold in high regard and consider to be more important than others? If we rank a variety of principles or characteristics, which do we literally value above all alternatives?
  4. Organizational Beliefs. The final set of conditions of being are the strongly held beliefs shared by all organizational members. While values are about what is important, beliefs are about what is true – what is our worldview? Which assumptions do we have about people and organizations, and how they can develop and be effective?

These four elements need to be determined while meeting the following six criteria:

  1. To inspire, a mission needs to instill a sense of relevance and significance – that what the organization is doing is worthwhile and that the effort that people put in is useful.
  2. A mission also needs to convey a hopeful message for people to buy in to, giving them a promising perspective that their efforts will lead to a positive outcome.
  3. A mission should also make clear to internal and external stakeholders that the organization’s existence is justified, giving it a moral license to operate.
  4. Identity. A mission should also paint a picture of the organization’s personality, so that people can identify with its unique characteristics and feel emotionally connected.
  5. Norms. A mission also needs to set tangible behavioral rules for all organizational members, clarifying what type of conduct is expected and what is not acceptable.
  6. Guidance. Finally, a mission should also steer decision-making in a particular direction, by offering guidelines as to what are the aspirations and priorities of the organization.

Key Insights

56. BOLD Vision Framework

Key Definitions

A vision is a picture of what you would like to become. You envision a future self or organization that you would like to strive for – it’s not what you see with your naked eye, but with your mind’s eye. It’s not how you look at things (your view), but how you dream to shape things.

A vision will be inspiring if it sketches an attractive long-term goal that is neither too easy nor out of reach. If it is too easy, it will simply be an objective. If it is unattainable, it will be a fantasy that people can’t take seriously. It needs to be an ambitious dream, not a pie-in-the-sky.

Conceptual Model

The BOLD Vision Framework outlines the four key elements that need to be defined to have a complete vision for an organization. At the heart is the organizational ambition (“how high do we want to set our sights?”), surrounded by the three fundamental strategic questions already discussed in the Strategic Alignment Model (Meyer’s Management Models #32). Underneath are the four BOLD conditions that need to be met for a vision to be inspiring, which are the opposite of SMART conditions (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-bound).

Key Elements

The four building blocks of any organizational vision are the following:

  1. Organizational Ambition. While an organization’s mission should give an answer to the question “why?” (the raison d’etre), the organization’s ambition should answer “how high?”. What is the performance level the organization wants to strive for – how big, well-known, impactful, profitable, international and/or sustainable? What does future success look like?
  2. Market Position. The world outside the organization is huge, so a crucial part of the vision is to define “where to play?” – where in the market does the organization want to compete and achieve success? Which customers does it want to serve and with which other parties is it willing to deal, such as competitors, distributors, suppliers, and governments.
  3. Business Model. The next question is “how to play?” – how does the organization want to create superior customer value in future, thereby fending off competition, while at the same time dealing with all other parties in the chosen market? What are the intended value propositions, which activity system will be developed, and which resources needed?
  4. Organizational Model. The final question is “who should play?” – what does the team look like that is capable of running the business model? What type of people need to be on the team, how should it be structured, coordinated, and controlled, which culture is needed and what type of leadership is required to get the optimal result?

These four elements need to be determined while meeting the following four criteria:

  1. While SMART goals need to be specific, a vision needs to be broad. It should sketch a big picture overview of how all elements fit together into a consistent whole, using rough brushstrokes to highlight the crucial lines, while leaving out all the specific details.
  2. While SMART goals need to be realistic, a vision needs to be optimistic. It should sketch a bright, hopeful picture of what can potentially be achieved if people in the organization is willing to work hard and luck is on their side.
  3. Long-term. While SMART goals need to be measurable and time-bound, a vision needs to be long-term. It is the guiding light further out into the future, giving direction beyond the period for which the organization measures and plans.
  4. Daring. While SMART goals need to be immediately actionable, a vision needs to be daring. It should challenge people to come out of their comfort zone, think big, innovate, and stretch themselves – to do things they never realized they could achieve.

Key Insights

55. Duty of Care Feedback Model

Key Definitions

In common parlance, feedback is any type of information given back to a person – evaluations, opinions, frustrations, complaints, or suggestions. Feedback is anything the giver wants to communicate. But this is a confusing misuse of the term that originally comes from cybernetics (control theory), where it refers to the signal looped back to a controlled system with the intention of steering it in a certain direction.

So, feedback is not what the giver wants to communicate, but what the receiver needs to hear in order to change behavior to achieve an intended result. Feedback is a signal targeted to influence the receiver and trigger particular behavior. Feedback is a steering mechanism.

Conceptual Model

The Duty of Care Feedback Model illustrates how feedback works and specifies how both the giver and receiver should behave to achieve an effective outcome. Key to the model is the understanding that giving feedback should NOT be about the giver wanting to communicate information to the receiver (“how do I package my criticism?”), but about the giver wanting to influence the receiver (“how do I get the behavior I want?”). Normally a person will be given an assignment as input (also called feedforward), leading to a certain behavior as output, which in the operating context will result in a particular outcome (the dark blue arrows). Information about the behavior and results needs to flow to the feedback giver (gray arrows), who should then avoid communicating a judgment, triggering a defense, but rather needs to think about effective signals to steer the receiver (light blue arrows). The feedback can be confirmative/ corrective (intended to only adjust behavior) or adaptive (also adjusting the assignment).

Both the feedback giver and receiver have a duty of care – they have a responsibility to be attentive to what is needed to achieve a beneficial outcome. For both parties the required mindset and behaviors are summarized with the abbreviation CARE.

Key Elements

As feedback is about influencing, not judging, for feedback givers it is key to get receivers to want to accept the feedback. This can be achieved by sticking to the following four guidelines:

  1. Feedback should never feel like a complaint or reprimand the giver needs to vent, but rather as a well-intended attempt to assist the receiver.
  2. Feedback should never leave the receiver wondering what to do but rather suggest tangible behaviors that can directly be put into practice.
  3. Relevant. Feedback should never consist of general reflections, but rather of pertinent suggestions to the receiver on how the shared goal can be achieved more effectively.
  4. Empathetic. Feedback should never exude arrogance or contempt towards the receiver but rather understanding, well-willingness and appreciation.

At the same time, if the feedback giver is seeking to help with care, the feedback receiver needs to open up to being helped. This can be achieved by sticking to the following guidelines:

  1. Feedback shouldn’t be approached defensively, but requires the receiver to exhibit a growth mindset, with a high level of open-mindedness to potentially useful inputs.
  2. Feedback shouldn’t be seen as inflicted by the giver but requires the receiver to be openly grateful for the time and energy the giver is willing spend helping.
  3. Feedback shouldn’t be superficially listened to and then meekly accepted but requires receivers to show the courage to critically examine their own behavior.
  4. Explorative. Feedback shouldn’t be seen as orders to be blindly implemented but requires the receiver to take ownership of the process of searching for and trying out new behaviors.

Key Insights

54. Best Practice Sharing Modes

Key Definitions

In organizations, a practice is a way of doing something – a method or technique to achieve a specific result. By extension, a best practice is a currently accepted superior means of getting something done. It can be the best in an organization, an industry or even the world.

Best practice sharing is the process of communicating a superior method from one person, unit, or organization to another. It requires the identification of the best practice (knowledge capture), some mode of handover (knowledge transfer) and acceptance by the best practice receiver (knowledge acquisition). For more, see the Knowledge Sharing Bridges (model #23).

Conceptual Model

The Best Practice Sharing Modes framework outlines twelve commonly used ways to transfer best practices, grouped into three main categories. For each of these twelve best practice sharing modes, two examples are given of tangible ways of sharing – you could say these are 24 best practices of best practice sharing. All examples can be used separately or in parallel to achieve effective sharing, depending on the setting and type of practice being shared.

Key Elements

The three general categories and twelve specific best practice sharing modes are the following:

  1. Supply-Driven Transfer. If someone has knowledge of a best practice, they can seek to spread it to others by proactively communicating their message using:
    1. Presenting. They can broadcast using the spoken word, by giving a presentation to a management team, performing at a conference, or even sharing a taped video.
    2. Publishing. They can also broadcast via the written word, articulating the best practice in an article, book, company manual, magazine interview or online newsletter.
    3. Teaching. They can also transfer by acting as an instructor, packaging the knowledge into a training, workshop, simulation, game, or online course.
    4. Advising. They can also directly suggest what the receiver should do, playing the role of expert and/or consultant, or just championing a particular best practice.
  2. Interaction-Driven Transfer. Best practice supply and demand can also be brought together by organizing settings that encourage interaction, such as:
    1. Meetings. People can be connected by staging events in which best practices can be showcased, such as an annual forum, knowledge exchange and award ceremony.
    2. Brokering. People can also be connected via matchmaking, using a commercial broker, internal knowledge catalyst or an online platform to match supply and demand.
    3. Mentoring. People can also be connected more structurally via dedicated learning relationships, such as using a master-apprenticeship system or internships.
    4. Communities. People can also be connected to learn via dedicated exchange groups, such as expert networks, interest groups and professional associations.
  3. Demand-Driven Transfer. A third approach is to actively assist individuals and/or organizations to search for best practices themselves, using one of the following modes:
    1. Asking. They can be helped by making it easier to ask a directed search question, by having a helpdesk, digital query system (“who knows…”), search engine or chatbot.
    2. Researching. They can also be helped by making it easier to investigate which best practices exist, by offering a taskforce with research capacity or a consultant.
    3. Linking Up. It also helps if they can be brought into contact with a best practice supplier, using a company directory, who’s who overview or someone’s personal network.
    4. Looking Up. Alternatively, it can help to quickly find the best practice itself from an overview, using a best practice database or an index on the company intranet.

Key Insights

53. Stakeholder Stance Map

Key Definitions

Stakeholders are the people or groups of people who believe they have a stake in an issue. As they feel that on this specific topic their interests are at play, they generally will have an opinion about how it should be dealt with, and they will frequently act accordingly.

An effective stakeholder analysis starts with identifying which parties view themselves as stakeholders with regard to an issue and then maps where each stakeholder stands. A typical follow up step is to delve deeper into the reasons why stakeholders take a particular stance, which strategy they are pursuing and what power they have to influence the issue.

Conceptual Model

The Stakeholder Stance Map gives an overview of where people stand on an issue, compared to where you stand. It not only shows what people’s position is on the topic – from very negative to very positive, along the x-axis – but also how vocal they are about their position, from entirely silent to highly outspoken, along the y-axis. The model emphasizes that not speaking out is also an important stance. Once this stance mapping is completed, an analysis of each stakeholder’s motivations, strategies and power can be built upon it. Please note that I am not the originator of this model but have only adapted it. However, I have never been able to track down who did create it – if anyone knows, I would be grateful to give appropriate credits.

Key Elements

The five general categories of stakeholders are the following:

  1. Change Agents. If stakeholders have a positive view of a development or proposed solution and are willing to publicly ventilate their support, they are change agents – they have the potential to assist or even drive change in the direction favored by the person drawing up the Stakeholder Stance Map. Having allies to share the work of realizing change is valuable, but having them as vocal champions is even more important, to signal to the broader population that it is better to jump on the unstoppable bandwagon.
  2. Silent Supporters. Stakeholders with a positive inclination, but who remain (largely) quiet, are called silent supporters. While it is good that they are in favor, their lack of active advocacy makes them useless in countering opponents and convincing doubters. Whether they are silent because they feel unsafe or powerless, or because they are naïve or disengaged, it is in the interest of the person drawing up the Stakeholder Stance Map to activate them and get them to speak out about their support.
  3. Stakeholders who candidly voice their opposition to a development or solution are called boxers, to convey their willingness to throw verbal punches. The advantage of frank opponents is that their contrary opinions are out in the open, allowing them to be treated as sparring partners instead of enemies – they can actually help to challenge ideas and spot weaknesses, if they can be seduced into a constructive exchange. If they insist on landing hard blows, however, it can be better to try to avoid them or exit them if possible.
  4. Guerillas. Stakeholders with a negative opinion who remain silent are called guerillas, to express their inclination towards undercover resistance. Sometimes they speak to no one about their opposition, but more often they are publicly silent, but disparaging behind closed doors. Such criticism at the coffee machine can undermine support or even lead to active sabotage. Therefore, it is important to draw out the guerillas and get them to voice their views, so they can be treated as sparring partners or exited.
  5. Fence Sitters. Not having a clear stance is also a stance – people in this category are called fence sitters, as they are neither on one side or the other and are waiting to see how things turn out. Some truly don’t have an outspoken opinion, while others prefer to sit on the fence for opportunistic reasons, waiting to join the winning side once it becomes clear who that is. As the fence sitters tend to be pragmatic waiters, they can be mobilized to join the change agents if they can be convinced it is time to jump on the bandwagon.

Key Insights

 

 

52. Status Snakes & Ladders

Key Definitions

A person’s or organization’s status is their standing compared to others – it is how they are ranked in the eyes of the people around them. As this relative standing is based on perceptions and reputation, status is not static, but changes over time and can be influenced.

Status can be derived from four key sources: From being seen as successful at a particular endeavor (achievement status), from being seen as morally good (virtue status), from being seen as member of a desirable group (affiliation status) and from being seen as powerful (power status). These are described in more detail in model 46 (Ambition Radar Screen).

Conceptual Model

The Status Snakes & Ladders framework outlines the six key factors influencing whether people and organizations gain or lose status. The name of the framework is a reference to the old board game Snakes and Ladders, in which participants can slide down away from the finish line or can take a shortcut up towards the finish by climbing a ladder. The framework’s key message is that the same up and down dynamic is true when it comes to status. However, in the board game everything depends on a roll of the dice, while in the status game there are six levers that can consciously be pulled to accelerate someone up or down. All six levers can be used by the people or organizations themselves, but also by those around them.

 

Key Elements

The six levers for increasing or decreasing someone’s status are the following:

  1. Higher status is awarded to people who behave according to social expectations – consistent with the unwritten rules that are part of the culture. For example, a successful person shouldn’t gloat, a morally good person shouldn’t be condescending, an in-crowd person should wear the right clothing and a powerful person should help the powerless. Conforming to these implicit social norms is key to achieving higher social status.
  2. But behaving ‘correctly’ is not enough – a person also needs to deliver. Real successes need to be achieved, morally good deeds need to be done, tangible membership of the in-group needs to be exhibited and/or the public wielding of power needs to be on display. People will be looking for concrete proof that a person can perform according to their standing. Doubt about their future ability to deliver can be detrimental.
  3. As it is often difficult to see whether a person is performing and conforming to the social rules, people will look to what others are saying – they will listen to the gossip and scan the media to get a sense of someone’s standing in the eyes of others. This presents the opportunity to promote yourself or others, highlighting performance and spinning it in the most beneficial way, or alternatively, making someone else look bad.
  4. Symbols. People not only take their cues from the media but are also sensitive to symbols that reinforce a certain image. A private plane signals success, a self-help book implies moral goodness, a title suggests membership of a select group, and your name on a skyscraper shouts that you are powerful. This presents the opportunity to give people symbols (or withhold them) such as a fancy title, a company car and/or a corner office.
  5. Association. Another type of status cue is how a person is treated by people of a higher rank. If it is made clear that a person is accepted as a peer by people of higher standing, this is a quick ladder up. Conversely, if people on a higher rung kick someone down, showing by their behavior that they don’t embrace that person as an equal, that person will inevitably slide down the snake to a lower status. Who you associate with is everything.
  6. Recognition. Besides acceptance by peers, it is crucial to be acknowledged and respected by all others, especially by people of higher status. Being invited to visit the president, being asked to comment by a national TV network, being given an award, and being promoted to a new role are all examples of receiving recognition. This presents the opportunity for anyone to give, or withhold, public acknowledgements.

Key Insights

51. Customer-Centricity Circle

Key Definitions

To create something of value, organizations carry out a variety of tasks, that together is called their activity system. All tasks that directly result in value in the eyes of the customer are the primary activities, while support activities are undertaken to provide the necessary resources to run the primary activity system (see model 50, the Activity System Dial).

Organizations are customer-centric when they place the customer journey at the center of all their activities and organize their primary activity system as a seamless flow following the steps taken by the customer.

Conceptual Model

The Customer-Centricity Circle gives a generic picture of what a typical customer journey looks like and then shows how an organization’s primary activity system should be wrapped around this customer journey, to accompany each customer in a seamless manner. The framework suggests that the customer experience should be actively managed throughout the full journey, using the many moments of interface to create customer value. The people and departments performing this flow of activities must therefore work closely together, instead of only focusing on their own task and leaving customers to wander between departments. In practice, each type of customer journey, and therefore each primary activity system, will be different.

Key Elements

The five steps of every customer journey, and the linked types of activities, are the following:

  1. Explore: Get inspired. At the start of a journey, customers are often still orienting themselves, looking to which needs should be addressed first and what types of value propositions are available. They will also scan for potential suppliers. In this phase, an organization will want to understand the customer’s needs and behaviors, while making themselves visible as potential supplier. At the same time, a competitive value proposition will need to be formulated and information about it made available to the customer.
  2. Examine: Go Shopping. Once a customer has become more committed to the idea of purchasing a product or service, the serious shopping can begin. More specific information about various products and suppliers will be requested and evaluated. The organization can use this interaction to influence the customer’s wishes and steer them towards a particular offering. In this part of the sales funnel there is often also a need to negotiate about the price and conditions.
  3. Exchange: Get it. As soon as customers finish the decision-making process, they will want to purchase and receive the goods or services. For the organization this means that they need to be able to deliver, often requiring earlier capacity planning. Once the order is taken and processed, the previously produced goods can be handed over or delivered, or the product/service will still need to be created, which sometimes will happen immediately, but often requires some scheduling and provision at a later moment.
  4. Experience: Enjoy it. Many products or services can be directly enjoyed by customers, but sometimes they need help to install, start-up and/or learn how to use their new purchase. During use they can also have questions and/or require support, while some problems might need to be resolved. For the organization this means after-sales support, which can range from helpdesk activities to on-going maintenance, repair and dealing with customer dissatisfaction for any variety of reasons.
  5. Extend: Repeat it. Ideally, organizations would like to have repeat customers, or at least customers that promote them among other customers. So, when customers want to dispose of their old products and reflect on what they liked and what they would prefer to have differently, the organization needs to be present to help the customer to return the old product, look back fondly and even go around the circle again. Here customer surveys can feed into the next round of value proposition development.

Key Insights