Recently I was pitching for new work and the question that keeps coming up came up. This question is always some form of “What is the single most critical factor in ……..?” Examples include:
· What is the single most critical factor in coming up with a great strategy?
· What is the single most critical factor in CRM / marketing automation success?
· What is the single most critical factor in customer experience success?
· What is the single most critical factor in making a success transition into a digital business?
· What is the single most critical factor in effecting organisational change?
· What is the single most critical factor in managing CRM projects and programmes?
· What is the single most critical factor in getting folks to adopt new systems?
You get the idea. No matter the domain, sooner or later a client will want to know what the single most critical factor to success is.
If find it interesting how it is that intelligent folks ask such a stupid question – with no awareness as to what makes this a stupid question. Do you get what it is that makes this question stupid?
The assumption behind this question is that the world, in which we find ourselves, is simple, silo’d, and linear. It assumes that the when it comes to dealing with challenges (and creating new futures) you can identify, isolate, work on one key factor – and this will ensure the desired outcome. It assumes that this factor is invariant across time – that it is always the same one thing that matters most irrespective of time, situation, context…
What if the challenge that we face is similar to the challenge that the juggler faces? The very nature of juggling involves juggling many balls at the same time. As such, does it not involve competence in using a wide angle lens to keep track of all the balls? And at the same time, focusing on the one or two balls which are at the forefront at the moment in time? And at the same time keeping one’s attention over the environment in which one finds oneself in: the audience, the surroundings, the weather….?
I say to you that what makes CRM, customer experience, digital marketing, digital business and marketing-sales-service effectiveness challenging is that there is no single factor that is critical to success! I say to you that no ‘guru’, no consultancy, no vendor has the magical recipe that takes the messiness out of life and guarantees a quick-easy journey to success.
So what is it that you have to put into the CRM, CX, Digital game? You have to start working on that which needs work. You have to attract the right folks to work with you on your challenge / desired outcome. You have to get hold of the necessary resources. You have to be attuned to that which is going on within and around you. You have to accept-embrace failures. You have to fail your way to success by keenly attuned to the visible and the invisible and making the necessary corrections as and when these are called for. You have to give up the stupid notion that there is one single most critical factor to success. And you have to continuously free yourself (and others) from the addiction to the short-cut.
I say to you that it is foolish to search for and focus on that one most critical success factor. I say to you even more foolish than this foolishness, is the foolishness of searching for and fixating on some magical potion: approach, methodology, technique, technology… I say to you that any person that offers you a single most critical success factor or magical potion is either a fool or a charlatan.
I invite you to consider that there is no single most critical factor in CRM / CX / Digital success! Enough for today, I thank you for listening.
Image via flickr