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The Insight Driven Organization

by David Brock on August 22nd, 2013

It’s clear that our customers want to be engaged differently.  High performing marketing and sales organizations are reshaping themselves to respond with Insight.  Insight is critical, our customers want fresh ideas, they want to improve their businesses, they want to find new opportunities, they want to become more efficient and effective.  I’m not sure how new this is–I think customers have always wanted these things, I think they may be manifesting it differently.

High performing sales and marketing teams are stepping up, they are providing insights–but I worry how long can this be sustained?

Sales and marketing are the “face” of the insights our organizations develop.  By themselves, marketing and sales cannot sustain this march to engaging the customer differently.  For any organization to sustain bringing insights to the customer, engaging the customer in new ways, we have to become Insight Driven Organizations.  The whole corporation has to be organized around the issue of “how do we help our customers grow and improve.”  Our business strategies, our product development strategies, our customer service, finance, manufacturing, operations have to be organized around the singular mission, how do we help our customers grow and improve? 

I suppose the Insight Driven Organization doesn’t look much different than the Customer-centric organization.  At their cores, each is driven by an intensity around the customer experience.  Market/Product strategists are engaged in understanding the customers and their customers.  They understanding the forces that are shaping their markets and industries, they are constantly talking, exploring and collaborating on ideas.  What are the opportunities, what are the trends, what are the big problems to be solved?  What can we do in helping our customers solve them?

Product development takes those ideas to start shaping solutions to bring to market–but their process is different than normal product development.  The customer is deeply involved in the process, in product definition, in reviewing specs, in testing.  Customer service is engaging customers to define not “delightful customer service experiences,” but “Effortless Customer Experiences.”  Procurement organizations behave differently, often seeking to become “Customers of Choice,”  because they know string supply partners are critical to the organization’s ability to serve their own customers.  HR  is bringing the right talent into the organization.  Legal, Finance, Manufacturing all have their role in sustaining the Insight Driven or Customer Centric Organization.

Knowledge flows freely between functions within the organizations, silos are broken down.  Knowledge flow freely to and from partners, suppliers and customers.  Collaboration, mutual learning, co-creation become standard operating procedure–not just internally, but with customers, suppliers and partners.

Insight is great, but Insight has a shelf life quickly becoming Hindsight.  Sales and marketing alone cannot continue to deliver fresh Insights to customers without the rest of the organization supporting them.  To sustain our customers’ voracious appetites to learn and improve, our organizations have to be structured to provide a continual flow of Insight supported by powerful answers and solutions.  We have to become Insight Driven Organizations.

Where does it start?  It can start in any part of the organization.  We see great successes in sales today.  But to sustain this over time, to keep Insight from becoming yesterday’s buzzword, the whole organization must be transformed.  And that can only come from the top–from a deep commitment to being Insight Driven, Customer-centric–from the board, through top management, and down through every part of the organization.

We’ve seen a lot of discussion around Insight Selling.  We’ve seen organizations starting to produce profound results by changing the way  marketing and sales engage customers through Insight.  But none of this will be sustained until the entire company is transformed to become an Insight Driven Organization.

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2 Comments
  1. Brian MacIver permalink

    Another very useful contribution to the “Insight” discussion, Dave.

    20 months in, and hundreds of insights later,
    I can confirm how short-lived many ‘insights’ are.

    They are often small scale too!
    But, that never prevented Kaizen from succeeding!

    I use the expression the “Insight Generating Company”
    [or Sales Community], rather than ‘driven’.

    When you adopt an Insight ‘generating’ Culture, both within and outside your Company, where any source is accepted. Ourselves, our customers and prospects, our competitors, our suppliers, in fact anyone who has a view and a ‘voice’.

    The best environment to generate insights?

    A room, Flip-charts, 3M post its, Coloured pens, beer [or Soda] and laughter!

    • Thanks Brian, Kaizen’s are a wonderful tool, too few people in sales and marketing appreciate.

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