Tuesday, January 22, 2008

2) "A Beautiful Mind" that started this journey

My research into the real reason behind CRM failures started after watching the movie "A Beautiful Mind".

In the movie, Russell Crowe plays the role of John Forbes Nash, the Nobel Laureate who suffered from schizophrenia. After watching a movie purporting to be based on a true story, it is my habit to do online research to find out what the "Real" true story is. While this often sucks the life out of the pure enjoyment of watching a movie, it feeds my inquisitive nature and my love of learning.
In reality, Nash was contacted by aliens, not the CIA, and his ever supportive wife divorced him but remarried him years later. Nash shared his Nobel Prize and no Laureate gets to make a speech at the ceremony. The key point here is I discovered the thesis Nash wrote at Princeton.

In his Princeton University doctoral thesis "Non-Cooperative Games", Nash expanded the concept of Game Theory by looking at a simple poker game. In all Game Theory, players will always do that which will give themselves the biggest payoff, with no consideration to the payoff to others.

I had no intention of entering into a research project at this point. I came up with an idea to create a game that would demonstrate to CRM users the benefits to themselves and to each other in using CRM to record their activities. This is the actual game paper I created:

A Card Game Analogy

When looking at any business report or situation (Poker Hand), there exist “High Cards” and “Low Cards”. High cards are those pieces of information a player feels will impact their hand the most .
These high cards often change and fluctuate depending on job role, culture and corporate direction. Because high cards can be subjective, incentive and corporate programs are often created to reflect (and drive) high card values and behaviors.
If you are left with high cards at the end of a hand, they count as negative.
Low cards are those pieces of information that in and of themselves do not command attention but in a cumulative way have an impact on high card values.
If a particular low card value is impacting, or needs to impact a high card value in a disproportionate way, it may be deemed a high card value for a period of time. Low cards are one to one issues
Often people leave the company and stacks of cards are found that should have been played, but were not.
If players never know if the other players are blindfolded or not, they cannot trust the game and will look for alternatives to ensure cards played are being acted upon.

High Card Dilemma: If a high card is played in CRM, assuming it will be read (and acted upon) and it is not, the player could be in a worse situation with the customer. If players assume the high card may or may not be read and acted upon, there is no point in playing in CRM because sporadic action will result in conflicting communication that may exasperate the issue even more (Blindfolded players). Players cannot win the game unless they play the high cards.
Low Card Dilemma: Over time, as all the hands I play are recorded and analyzed, others will know exactly what patterns I use in playing. I will lose my ability to bluff and others will be able to critique my playing. But if many players are recording all hands played, I will be able to view playing patterns of successful and unsuccessful players and allow experts to coach me to being a better player.
The coaches must also show all low cards played. Discarded low cards may be picked up and used by other players
THE DEALER IS ALWAYS THE CUSTOMER although wild cards are decided by players at the beginning of each round.
Discards are low cards deemed by others to be high cards
Endless deck with an equal number of high and low cards
Players may opt out of the game at the beginning.

What happens if players leave the game but don’t tell anyone?
High cards are recorded in your hand and then also sent to other players (Partners) that you think can also use them. Whoever receives the card either plays it or sends it to another player. Unplayed high cards at the end of the round, count against the holder and those that sent the cards.

You are all playing against the “HOUSE”

Game Theory Simplified
Game theory seeks to understand the rational choices that people will make to receive maximum personal payoff in a given situation. The most famous game theory is "The Prisoner's Dilemma".

The Prisoner’s Dilemma
In 1950, Rand Corp. scientists Merill Flood and Melvin Dresher, researching game theory in terms of its possible applicability to global nuclear strategy, came up with a series of non-zero-sum puzzles. From this evolved the Prisoner’s Dilemma:
Smith and Jones are arrested on suspicion of a crime. Their attorney tells them the evidence is flimsy, so if they both stay silent, their sentence will likely be a year at most on minor charges. The suspects are put in separate cells and each visited by the district attorney with the following deal:
If you cooperate and confess to the crime but your accomplice remains silent, you will go free because you cooperated, and we will jail your partner for 20 years.
If you confess and your partner does, then he will go free and you will get 2o years.
If you both confess, you’ll both get 10 years

A strategy of mutual silence results in the best collective outcome, but it requires the partners to trust each other because it places the silent player at risk of being exploited for the other’s gain. The dominant strategy therefore, is to confess (Defect).

John Nash took this theory one step further by mathematically proving that individual players could benefit by understanding that the other players will consistently do that which will give themselves the biggest payoff.

What this all has to do with CRM

CRM is sold to users under the premise that recording their activities in CRM will be beneficial to them.
Despite what is said in the room, users will inevitably make the decision whether or not to support CRM by recording their activities in a centralized database.
We know from many studies that CRM most often fails, because users choose not to use the system rather than support it. Although I strongly believe that consistent use of CRM will help employees be more successful, users will inevitably weigh any benefits in recording their activities against any percieved threats in doing so, when deciding whether or not to use CRM.

My study took a comprehensive look at what really goes on in the minds of CRM users, between the stated intentions to use CRM, and the inevitable failure of the program due to the lack of input by users, or distrust in the data provided.
My study does not support the conventional view of what CRM can or will achieve, in terms of allowing companies to have users submit to activity controls, regardless of how benignly these controls are presented to users.
Examples of common statements include:
  • “The company has neither the time or inclination to watch your activities”
  • “Information sharing is important with so many people calling on the same customers”
  • “The information will not be used against you but we do need reports in order to measure the success of the ____________ program”
  • “As long as you are getting results, we have no interest in monitoring how you are getting those results”

If the dominant strategy in a Trust/Don’t Trust Dilemma is “Don’t Trust”, by either the company or CRM users, the factors causing the distrust must be removed or CRM will fail.

Because this study and its conclusions may seem to cast doubt on the overall value in even attempting a CRM implementation, recommendations are made on how companies can increase the odds of a successful implementation substantially. The results of this study have been validated by sales reps and sales managers from several companies.

**The term “Activity Controls” does not refer to activities or information currently communicated between customer facing employees, via emails and/or phone calls, to achieve a specific outcome desired by the originating employee. Activity controls simply mean the ability to observe and record current activities and through analysis, the ability to change future activities and behaviors.
On my next entry, I will address the topic of perfect versus imperfect knowlege of activities and "High Card" versus "Low Card" activities.
Best Regards

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