Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Testing My CRM Dilemma

One of the services I provide to clients in my practice is brainstorming sessions. I have created a system that involves using large sheets of easel paper, about twenty different colors and shapes of Post-It notes, matching colors of Sharpie pens, and colored stars that represent particular employees. It occurred to me that this system could be used to test how CRM is planned to be used by companies.

The theory is that each employee document on a Post-It note what they do during each hour of each day. The color of Post-It note used will be determined by the category of work he or she does during that hour and these categories will be decided in advance. Each employee will have a colored star that is also stuck to the Post-It note to identify that they did the activity. The Post-It notes will be put on the easel sheets with each sheet representing a day of the week or month. These sheets are to be placed in the company lunch room or other common area so anyone having access to that area can see and read them. This is CRM in a completely manual form but I hope you can see the similarities to a central database system used by most companies attempting to launch a CRM system.

As the Post-It notes were added, they could be sorted by employee (Stars), activity category (Post-It color), and by day, all in reporting fashion.

What do you think would happen? Here's what I think would happen:

  1. The grumbling would begin immediately - "The Post-It notes are too small", "It takes too long to fill them out", "The trip to the posting area takes time out of my day", "The sheet provided for each day isn't big enough".
  2. Larger Post-It notes and posting sheets will have to be ordered and a daily pickup of Post-It notes will be done by a junior staff member to accommodate the complaints.
  3. Many employees will stop using the system while they wait for the new supplies to arrive.
  4. The other employees, noticing they are the only ones posting, will also stop.
  5. New supplies will arrive and will be distributed to staff with the assumption posting will begin again.
  6. It has been noted that company executives have not been posting to the activity wall. This is unfortunate for employees because they were looking forward to reading them. Executives have stated they are "too busy to post" even though each of them has an administrator. They do however insist that employees go back to posting their activities.
  7. It has also been noted that several executives have not been going down to read the Post-It wall and are staying in their executive area instead.
  8. Employees begin to wonder why executives insist on the postings when they are clearly not going down to read them.
Let the Gaming Begin!

  • Opting out of posting waiting for the new supplies to arrive, employees have gotten out of the habit of posting their notes. Several meetings are held to get them posting again.
  • Several middle managers, following the lead of executives have decided they also do not need to post to the wall but continue to insist their employees must do so.
  • Some top performers are permitted to not post their activities to the wall because they are too busy being top performers and it is obvious they are doing all the right things.
  • Those that are left posting, in fear of being judged on their activities, begin to fabricate what they do each day. Great time is consumed doing this.
  • They begin to post nonsense items to see if anyone is actually reading them.
  • The number of postings is steadily declining
  • When asked, employees report they have run out of Post-It category colors and new weekly sheets are not being put up fast enough.
  • With so few employees posting, the system is unusable due to the information gaps.
  • Within a short time, the Post-It wall, created with such promise and enthusiasm, remains unused because the system "just didn't suit our needs".
Do any of you see a way to have a different result? I can't, I would love to, but I can't. Look at a company bulletin board where people post things of interest to them. Filled with pictures, current events, the latest Fail Blog post. People have no problem finding the time for these things but ask them to post their activities and it all falls apart.

See you again very soon. Thanks to all my fans for hanging in during my absence.
Best Regards,
Arne Huse

Arne Huse Consulting

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