Customers don’t see functions. They have no idea which group of people within an organisation have done what when they come into contact with you. Finance? Nah. Marketing? Nope. Operations? Nada. They don’t exist from the most important perspective in any business, from the perspective of the customer. So why do these false divisions matter so much to those inside an organisation and is it helpful to think like that?
There is no function
It was a great movie, The Matrix. 1999. Even though it looks a little dated now compared to the lavish, nothing is impossible, visual feasts that we are used to, there are a number of ground breaking elements there. The flip phone. Bought one. My first phone. Thinking of getting the updated version. Classic. The first film to use the cinematic technique that has come to be know as ‘bullet time’ (after the scene it was used in!) where footage is taken by a sphere of cameras positioned at all angles around the subject giving the impression of detaching the camera from time and space. Impressive. Then there is the core concept. We are all daydreaming our way through life while we are farmed for our resources. Ahem. Frighteningly close to truth but that isn’t the one that I want to draw your attention to here…
‘There is no spoon‘ a character tells the protagonist as he is on his journey to breaking out of the matrix (spoiler) by way of saying it is all in the mind. Everything. It is all in the mind.
The different functions of our organisations, even thought they might be part of the identity of those who work within them, are all in the mind. We must appreciate, in fact it is essential if you want to run the best organisation, that the end user of your products, your customers, do not see those functions. They don’t exist. Assuming your organisation exists for a purpose and that the purpose is to serve a group of people then from the view of those, most important people, the internal structures don’t exist. They can’t point to marketing or operations etc. Yet on the inside of these organisations we often think within the straight lines they provide for us and don’t often (dare to) think outside of them for fear or exceeding our remit or stepping on others toes. Large organisations need structure, they need specialists but they do not need people who only think about their particular specialism and don’t think about how their work combines with everyone else’s to deliver the highest level of customer satisfaction possible.
There are no functions.
The whole reason your organisation exists is to create one, unified experience that delivers value to your customer. Profit, social good and so on are all secondary to that and are easier to achieve when the focus is on the reason for existing. It’s easy to get confused and even lost especially within larger organisations and dissociate your role from customer satisfaction.
I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in founding, co-founding and developing a number of exciting businesses of various sizes and find great enjoyment and satisfaction at a scale and in a way that allows a strong, like minded team to work interdependently on creating one unified customer experience that combines and ignores all of the usual business functions. They are there, they are essential and help to organise efforts but they are not dominant. You need a team who are good at what they do so they can just do it allowing the group to focus on the bigger picture and wider goals. For example I was fortunate in being Operations and Marketing Director and Superintendent Pharmacist for a community pharmacy startup that enabled me to combine the two, thinking of the customer experience above all else. I couldn’t have articulated it in that way at the time but in retrospect that was where I began taking this approach with the support of a great team and boss. I’m now happy to have the opportunity to do similar work but with new found knowledge and understanding of strategy, branding and marketing for select clients.
It takes a bit of skill and experience to be able to meld the pieces together and to do it in a way that is invisible to customers but its a wonderful challenge and is a little addictive.
Watch out for some of the projects that will appear as case studies on our site over the coming months. In the meantime, if you want an experience you can feel yourself you could do a lot worse than visit an Aesop store. Just visit one. Take your time. Focus on the experience. Try and notice how carefully crafted it is, from the environment, to the packaging, to the hot cuppa provided while you browse, to the experience bar where you get hands on with the products, to the uniforms, to the assistants coached to deliver an effortless sell and the packaging that is sprayed with perfume before you leave. Leave at least £50 lighter but far more enlightened. All of the functions coming together to create one single, unified experience.
There are no functions.